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All rights reiervtd 




This edition of the writings of the late Professor Green 
will include a selection from his unpublished papers, 
and all his printed works except the * Prolegomena to 
Ethics* (Oxford, 1883). 

The first volume consists of his two principal pieces 
of philosophical criticism. The * Introductions * to 
Hume's * Treatise of Human Nature* were originally 
published in 1874, in the first and second volumes of 
the edition of Hume's works which he and Mr. T. H. 
Grose were preparing for Messrs. Longman. He had 
always been convinced that the English speculation of 
the last hundred years had been stationary or retro- 
grade because it had not really faced the problem which 
Hume had bequeathed to it, and that the. first con- 
dition of progress was a thorough re-examination of 
the foundations upon which, though Hume had shown 
their instability, it was still consciously or unconsciously 
building. Thus the history and criticism of the Enghsh 
philosophy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries 
had long engaged his attention, and formed the subject 
of repeated courses of lectures, several drafts of which 
still remain among his papers. His results were finally 
embodied in the two * Introductions,' which form an 
elaborate critical exposition of the metaphysical and 


moral system of Hume and its affiliation to that of 

Three years later, feeling that * each generation re- 
quires the questions of philosophy to be put to it in its 
own language, and, unless they are so put, will not be 
at the pains to understand them ' (p. 373), he began to 
apply the same principles of criticism to contempo- 
rary Enghsh psychology as represented by Mr. Herbert 
Spencer and Mr. G. H. Lewes. Of this discussion. Parts 
I, n, HI, and V were published in the * Contemporary 
Eeview ' for December 1877, March 1878, July 1878, 
and January 1881 ; Part IV, which was intended for the 
same Eeview, was withheld on account of Mr. Lewes' 
death in 1878 and was not continued ; it is now pub- 
lished for the first time. 

In reprinting, a few obvious corrections have been 

made in the text, and the division into sections and 

marginal analysis, which the author had made for the 

* Introductions * to Hume, has been continued through 

most of the volume. 

OZFOBD : Maroh, ISS6 




Lntboduotioks to Huke's * Teeatise op Human Natube.' 
L Oeitebal Intbodugtion. 


How the history of philosophy should be studied • • • 1 

Hume the last great English philosopher • • • • 2 

Kant his true successor 2 

Distinction between literary history and the history of philo* 

sophical systems 3 

-Object of the present enquiry 5 

Locke's problem and method •••••• 5 

His notion of the * thinking thing *•••••• 6 

JIiLb he will passively observe •••••• 6 

Is such observation possible 7 ••••••• 7 

Why it seems so • 8 

Locke's account of origin of ideas •••••• 8 

Its ambiguities fa) In regard to sensation • • • • 8 

(b) In. regard to ideas of reflection 9 

What is the < tablet ' impressed? 10 

Does the mind make impressions on itself? • • • .11 

Source of these difficulties 11 

The ' simple ' idea, as Locke describes it, is a ' complex ' idea of 

substance and relation 12 

How this contradiction is disguised 12 

Locke's way of interchanging ' idea * and ' quality * and its 

effects 13 

Primary and secondary qualities of bodies . • • • 14 

' Simple idea * represented as involving a tiieory of its own cause 15 

Phrases in which this is implied 15 

Feeling and felt thing confused 16 

The simple idea as ' ectype ' other than mere sensation • . 17 
It involves a judgment in which mind and thing are distin- 
guished . • • • 19 

And is equivalent to what he afterwards calls 'knowledge of 
identity ' • .20 



Only a« such can it be named 21 

The same implied iu calling it an idea of an object . • • 21 
'MsdefoTj not 5y, us, and therefore according to Locko really 

existent 22 

What did he mean by this ? 22 

ExiBtence as the mere presence of a feeling . • • • 23 

Existence as reality 24 

By confusion of these two meanings, reality and its conditions 

are represented as given in simple feeling .... 25 

Tet reality involves complex ideas which are made by the mind 25 
Such are substance and relation which must be foimd in every 

object of knowledge . 27 

Abstract idea of substance and complex ideas of particular sorts 

of substance 28 

The abstract idea according to Locke at once precedes and fol- 
lows the complex 29 

Beferenoe of ideas to nature or God, the same as reference to 

substance 80 

But it is explicitly to substance that Locke makes them refer 

themselves 81 

In the process by which we are supposed to arrive at complex 

ideas of substances the beginning is the same as the end • 81 
Doctrine of abstraction inconsistent with doctrine of complex 

ideas 82 

The confusion covered by use of ' particulars ' • • • 83 

Locke*s account of abstract general ideas . » • • • 83 

' Things ' not general 84 

Generality an invention of the mind 85 

The result is, that the feeling of each moment is alone real . 85 

How Locke avoids this result 86 

The ' particular ' waa to him the individual qualified by general 

relations 87 

This is the real thing from which abstraction is supposed to start 88 

Yet, according to the doctrine of relation, a creation of thought . 89 

Summary of the above contradictions 40 

They cannot be overcome without violence to Locke's funda- 
mental principles • 41 

As real existence, the simple idea carries with it ' invented ' re- 
lation of cause • 42 

C!orrelativity of cause and substance .43 

How do we know that ideas correspond to reality of things? • 43 

Locke's answer * . 44 

It assumes that simple ideas are consciously referred to things 

that cause them 45 

Lively ideas real, because they must be effects of things • . 45 

Present sensation gives knowledge of existence • • . 46 



Beaaons why its testimony must be trusted .... 47 

How does this acoount fit Locke's definition of knowledge • 48 
Locke's acoount of the testimony of sense renders his question as 

to its veracity superfluous 49 

Confirmations of the testimony turn upon the distinction be- 
tween ' impression' and ' idea ' 50 

They depend on language which pre-suppoaes the ascription of 

sensation to an outward cause 50 

This ascription means the clothing' of sensation with inyented 

relations 51 

What is meant by restricting the testimony of sense to present 

existence? 52 

Such restriction, if maintained, would render the testimony un- 
meaning. 53 

But it is not maintained : the testimony is to operation of per- 
manent identical things 54 

Locke's treatment of relations of cause and identity . , 55 
That from which he derives idea of cause pre-supposes it . .55 

Bationale of this ' petitio principii * 56 

Kelation of cause has to be put into sensitive experience in 

order to be got from it 57 

Origin of the idea of identity according to Locke ... 58 

Relation of identity not to be distinguished from idea of it . 58 

This * invented ' relation forms the * veiy being of things ' . 59 

Locke fails to distinguish between identity and mere unity . 60 
Feelings are the real, and do not admit of identity. How then 

can identity be real 7 61 

Tet it is from reality that the idea of it is derived ... 62 

Transition to Locke's doctrine of essence .... 62 

This repeats the inconsistency found in his doctrine of substance 63 

Phm to be followed 63 

What Locke understood by ' essence ' 64 

Only to nominal essences that general propositions relate, i.e. only 

to abstract ideas having no real existence » • , . 65 

An abstract idea may be a simple one • • • • • 66 

How then is science of nature possible ? . • • . 67 

Ko ' uniformities of phenomena ' can be known • • . 68 
Locke not aware of the full effect of his own doctrine, which is 

to make the real an abstract residuum of consciousness . 68 
Ground of distinction between actual sensation and ideas in the 

mind is itself a thing of the mind 71 

Twomeaningsof real essence , 72 

According to one, it is a collection of ideas as qualities of a thing : 
about real essence in this sense there may be general know- 
ledge 72 

Bat such real essence a creature of thought • • • • 75 



Hence another view of real essence as unknown qualities of un- 
known bodj • . . • 75 

How Locke mixes up these two meanings in ambigiiity about 

body 75 

Body as 'parcel of matter' without essence • • • • 76 
In this sense body is the mere individuum . . . • 77 

Body 83 qualified by circumstances of time and place . . 77 
Such body Locke held to be subject of* primary qualities* : but 
are these compatible with particularity in time 7 • . 78 

How Locke avoids this question 79 

Body and its qualities supposed to be outside consciousness . 80 

How can primary qualities be outside consciousness, and yet 

knowable? 81 

Locke answers that they copy themselves in ideas — Berkeley's 
rejoinder. Locke gets out of the difficulty by his doctrine of 

solidity 81 

In which he equivocates between body as unknown opposite of 

mind and body as a ' nominal essence * 82 

Rationale of these contradictions 83 

What knowledge can feeling, even as referred to a * solid ' body, 

convey? . . • 84 

Only the knowledge that something is, not what it is • . 86 

How it is that the real essence of things, according to Locke, 

perishes with them, yet is immutable 86 

Only about qualities of matter, as distinct from matter itself, thut 
Locke feels any difficulty ...... 87 

These, as knowable, must be our ideas, and therefore not a ' real 

essence' 88 

Are the ' primary qualities ' then, a ' nominal essence '7 . 89 
According to Locke's account they are relations, and thus inven- 
tions of the mind 89 

Body is the complex in which they are found ... 90 

Do we derive the idea of body from primary qualities, or the 

primary qualities from idea of body ? 91 

Mathematical ideas, though ideas of * primary qualities of body,' 

have ' barely an ideal existence ' 92 

Summary view of Locke's difficulties in regard to the real. . 93 

Why they do not trouble him more 94 

They re-appear in his doctrine of propositions .... 94 
The knowledge expressed by a proposition, tliough certain, may 

not be real, when the knowledge concerns substances . . 95 

In this case general truth must be merely verbal . . • 97 
Mathematical truths, since they concern not substances, may be 

both general and real 98 

Significance of this doctrine 98 



Fatal to the notion ihat mathematical trnths, though general, are 
got fiom experience : and to received views of natural science : 
but Locke not so dear about this • . ... 99 

Ambiguity as to real essence causes like ambiguity as to science 

ofnatore 101 

Particular experiment cannot afford general knowledge . • 102 
What knowledge it can afford, accordiog to Locke • • . 102 
Not the knowledge which is now supposed to be got by induc- 
tion 103 

Yet more than Locke was entitled to suppose it could give . 104 
With Locke mathematical truths, though ideal, true also of 

nature 105 

Two lines of thought in Locke, between which a follower would 

have to choose 106 

Transition to doctrine of God and the soul . • • . 107 
Thinking substance — source of the same ideas as outer substance 

Of which substance is perception the effect ? . . . . 108 
That which is the source of substantiation cannot be itself a sub- 
stance 109 

To get rid of the inner source of ideas in favour of the outer 

would be &lBe to Locke 110 

The mind, which Locke opposes to matter, perpetually shifting 111 

Two ways out of such difficulties 112 

' Matter * and ' mind ' have the same source in self-consciousness 1 1 3 
Difficulties in the way of ascribing reality to substance as matter, 

re-appear in regard to substance as mind . • • . 113 

We think not always, yet thought constitutes the self . .114 
Locke ndther disguises these contradictions, nor attempts to 

overcome them 115 

Ib the idea of God possible to a consciousness given in time 7 . 116 

Locke's account of this idea 116 

'Lifinity,' according to Locke's account of it, only applicable to 

God, if God has parts 117 

Oan it be applied to him ' figuratively ' in virtue of the ind^- 

nite number of His acts? 118 

An act, finite in its nature, remains so, however often repeated 119 
God only infinite in a sense in which time is not infinite, and 
which Locke could not recognize— the same sense in which 

the self is infinite 120 

How do I know my own real existence 7 — Locke's answer . 122 

It cannot be known consistently with Locke's doctrine of real 

existence 123 

But he ignores this in treating of the self • • • • 123 

Sense in which the self is truly real 124 

Locke's proof of the real existence of €rod • • • .125 



There must have been something from eternity to cause what 

now is 126 

How 'eternity * must be understood if this argument is to be 

valid : and how ' cause ' 126 

The world which is to prove an eternal Grod must be itself 

eternal 129 

But will the God, whose existence is so proven, be a thinking 

being? 129 

Tes, according to the true notion of the relation between thought 

and matter . * 130 

Locke's antinomies — Hume takes one side of them as true • 131 

Hume's scepticism fatal to his own premises • • • • 132 

This derived firom Berkeley 133 

Berkeley's religious interest in making Locke consistent • • 133 

What is meant bj relation of mind and matter 7 . • • 134 

Confusions involved in Locke's materialism . • • . 134 
"^Two ways of dealing with it. Berkeley chooses the most 

obvious • 135 

His account of the relation between visible and tangible ex- 
tension 136 

We do not see bodies without the mind, nor yet feel them • 137 

--^^-The'esse'of body isthe'percipi' 138 

What then becomes of distinction between reality and &ncy 7 138 

The realssideas that God causes 139 

Is it then a succession of feelings ? 139 

Berkeley goes wrong from confusion between thought and feeling 140 
For Locke's ' idea of a thing ' he substitutes ' idea ' simply . 141 
Which, if idea=feeling, does away with space and body . 142 
lie does not even retain them as ' abstract ideas ' . . .142 
On the same principle all permanent relations should disappear 143 
By making colour=relations of coloured points, Berkeley repre- 
sents relation as seen 144 

Still he admits that space is constituted by a succession of feel- 
ings . . 145 

If so, it is not space at all ; but Berkeley thinks it is only not 

pure space 14«$ 

Space and pure space stand or &11 together . • • • 146 

Berkeley disposes of space for fear of limiting God • • 147 
How he deals with possibility of general knowledge . • .147 
His theory of universals of value, as implying that universality 

of ideas lies in relation 148 

But he &ncies that each idea has a positive nature apart from 

relation • • • . . 150 

Traces of progress in his idealism 151 

His way of dealing with physical truths • • • • 152 



If tfaey imply pennanent rdationa, his theory properly excludes 

them 152 

He suppofles a divine decree that one feeling shall follow another 153 
Locke had explained reality by relation of ideas to outward 

body 153 

Liveliness in the idea eyidence of this relation . • • 154 

Berkeley retains this notion, only substituting ' God ' for ' body ' 154 
Not r^aiding the world as a system of intelligible relations, he 

could not regard Grod as the subject of it . • • • 155 

His view of the soul as ' naturally immortal * . . . 156 

EDdleas succession of feelings is not immortality in true sense . 156 
Berkeley's doctrine of matter fatal to a true spiritualism : as 

well aa to a true Theism 157 

His inference to God fix>m necessity of a power to produce ideas ; 

a necessity which Hume does not see 159 

A different turn should' have been given to his idealism, if it was 

to serve his purpose • * 160 

Hume's mission .•..••••• 161 

His account of impressions and ideas • • • • • 161 

Ideas are fidnter impressions ....... 162 

^ Ideas ' that cannot be so represented must be explained as mere 

words 162 

Home, taken strictly, leaves no distinction between impressions 

of reflection and of sensation ,...•• 168 

Locke's theory of sensation disappears . . • • • 163 

Physiology won't answer the question that Locke asked • • 164 

Those who think it will don't understand the question . • 164 
Hume's psychology will not answer it either . . • .165 
It only seems to do so by assuming the * Action ' it has to account 

ibr ; by assuming that impression represents a real world . 166 

So the ' Positivist ' juggles with ' phenomena' . . .168 

Essential difference, however, between Hume and the ' Positivist ' 1 68 

He adopts Berkeley's doctrine of ideas, but without Berkeley's 

saving suppositions in regard to * spirit ' and relations . 169 

His account of these 171 

It oorreeponds to Locke's account of the sorts of agreement be- 
tween ideas 171 

Could Hume consistently admit idea of relation at all? . .172 
Only in regard to identity and causation that he sees any diffi- 
culty 174 

These he treats as fictions resulting from ' natural relations ' of 
ideas : i.e. from resemblance and contiguity . . . .174 

Lb resemblance then an impression ? 175 

Distinction between resembling feelings and idea of resemblance. 176 

Substances=:collections of ideas 177 

How can ideas ' in flux ' be collected ? 177 



Are there general ideas ? Berkeley said, * yes and no * • . 17<$ 

Hnme ' no ' simply 179 

How he accounts for the appearance of there being such • 179 
His account implies that * ideas ' are conceptions, not feelings • 180 
He virtually yields the point in regard to the predicate of pro^ 

positions 181 

As to the subject, he equivocates between singleness of feeling 

and individuality of conception 182 

Hesult is a theory which admits predication, but only as sin- 
gular 183 

All propositions restricted in same way as Locke's propositions 

about real existence 184 

The question, how the singular proposition is possible, the vital 

one 185 

Not relations of resemblance only, but those of quantity also, 
treated by Hume as feelings ...... 186 

He draws the line between certainty and probability at the same 
point as Locke ; but is more definite as to probability, and 
does not admit opposition of mathematical to physical cer- 
tainty — here following Berkeley 187 

His criticisms of the doctrine of primary qualities . . .189 
It will not do to oppose bodies to our feeling when only feeling 

can give idea of body 189 

T..ocke's shuffle of * body,' * solidity,' and * touch,' fiiirly exposed . 190 

True rationale of Locke's doctrine 192 

With Hume *body ' logically disappears 192 

What then? 193 

Can space survive body ? Hume derives idea of it *from sight 

and feeling 193 

Significance with him of such derivation . . . . 194 

It means, in effect, that colour and space are the same, and that 

feeling may be extended 194 

The parts of space are parts of a perception . . . . 195 

Yet the parts of space are CO- existent not successive . . .196 
Hume cannot make space a * perception ' without being false to 
his own account of perception ; as appears if we put * feeling ' 
for ' perception ' in the passages in question . . . 197 

To make sense of them, we must take perception to mean per- 
ceived thing, which it can only mean as the result of certain 

'fictions' •. . . . 198 

If felt thing is no more than feeling, how can it have qualities? 200 
The thing will have ceased before ^e quality begins to be • 201 
Hume equivocates by putting ' coloured points ' for colour . .201 
Can a * disposition of coloured points ' be an impression ? . • 202 
The points must be themselves impressions, and therefore not 
co-existent 203 

THE HRST y^:iS&ir>-^N'^"'' X7 


A ' oompoimd impression ' excluded by Hume^s doctrine of 

time 204 

The &ct that oolonn mix, not to the purpose .... 206 
Hov Hume avoids appearance of identifying space with colour, 

and accounts for the abstraction of space . *. . . 206 

In 80 doing, he implies that space is a relation, and a relation 

which ifl not a possible impression 207 

No logical alternative between identifying space with colour, and 

admitting an idea not copied from an impression 209 

In his account of the idea as abstract^ Hume really introduces 
distinction between feeling and conception; yet avoids ap- 
pearance of doing so, by treating ' consideration * of the rela- 
tions of a felt thing as if it were itself the feeling . • . 210 
Summary of contradictions in his account of extension • • 212 
He gives no account of quantity as such . . . • .213 
His account of the relation between Time and Number . • 214 

What does it come to ? 214 

Unites alone really exist : number a ' fictitious denomination ' 215 
Yet * unites * and * number ' are correlative ; and the supposed 

fiction unaccountable 216 

Idea of time even more unaccountable on Hume's principles . 217 
His ostensible explanation of it . . . . . . 218 

It tarns upon equivocation between feeling and conception of 

relations between felt things 219 

He fiiilfl to assign any impression or compotmd of impressions 

from which idea of time is copied 220 

How can he adjust the exact sciences to his theory of space and 

time? 221 

In order to seem to do so, he must get rid of ' Infinite Divisi- 
bility' 222 

Quantity made up of impressions, and there must be a least 

possible impression 223 

Tet it is admitted that there is an idea of number not made up 

of impressions 224 

A finite division into impressions no more possible than an in- 
finite one 225 

In Hume*s instances it is not really a feeling, but a conceived 

thing, that appears as finitely divisible .... 225 
Upon true notion of quantity infinite divisibility follows of 

oouzse 226 

What are the ultimate elements of extension ? 1£ not extended, 

what are they? 227 

ColouiB or coloured points ? What is the difference ? • . 228 
True way of dealing with the question . . . . 228 

* If the point were divisible, it would be no termination of a line.' 

Answer to this . • • • 229 

VOL. I. a 



What becomea of the exactneas of mathematics according to 
Hume? 280 

The tmiversal propositions of geometry either untrue or unmean- 
ing 281 

Distinction between Hume*s doctrine and that of the hypothetical 
nature of mathematics 282 

The admission that no relations of quantity are data of sense re- 
moves difficulty as to general propositions about them • • 233 

Hume does virtually admit this in regard to numbers . • 284 

With Hume idea of vacuum impossible, but logically not more 
so than that of space 285 

How it is that we talk as if we had idea of vacuum according to 
Hume 237 

His explanation implies that we have an idea virtually the same 288 

By a like deyice that he is able to explain the appearance of our 
having such ideas as Causation and Identity . . . 288 

Knowledge of relation in way of Identity and Causation excluded 
by Locke's definition of knowledge 240 

Inference a transition from an object perceived or remembered 
to one that is not so 241 

Belation of cause and effect the same as this transition . . 242 

Yet seems other than this. How this appearance is to be ex- 
plained 243 

Inference, resting on supposition of necessary connection, to be 
explained before that connection 243 

Account of the inference given by Locke and Clarke rejected . 244 

Three points to be explained in the inference according to Hume 244 

a. The original impi-ession from which the transition is made 245 

b. The transition to inferred idea 245 

0. The qualities of this idea 246 

It results that necessary connection is an impression of reflection, 

i.e., a propensity to the transition described . . • . 246 
The transition not to anything beyond sense • • . 247 

Nor determined by any objective relation • • • • 248 

Definitions of cause ....••.. 248 

a. As a ' philosophical ' relation ••;..« 249 
Is Hume entitled to retain ' philosophical ' relations as distinct 

from * natural ' ? 249 

Examination of Hume^s language about them . . , .250 
Philosophical relation consists in a comparison, but no compari- 
son between cause and effect 250 

The comparison is between present and past experience of suc- 
cession of objects 251 

Observation of succession already goes beyond sense . . 252 

As also does the ' observation concerning identity,' which the 
comparison involves .•••••,, 253 



Identity of objects an unavoidable cmx for Hume • . 254 

HiB account <^ it 254 

Properly with him it is a fiction, in the aense that we have no 

such idea 255 

Yet he implies that we have such idea, in saying that we mis- 
take something else for it 255 

Succession of like feelings mistaken for an identical object: but 

the feelings, as described, are ahready such objects . . 256 

Fiction of identity thus implied as source of the propensity which 

is to account for it 257 

With Hume continued existence of percepdons a fiction different 

fiom their identity 258 

Can perceptions exist when not perceived ? . . • . 259 
Existence of objects, distinct from perceptions, a further fiction stiU 259 
Are these several * fictions ' really different firom each other ? . 260 
Are they not all involved in the simplest perception ? . . 261 
Yet they are not possible ideas, because copied from no impres- 
sions 262 

Comparison of present experience with past, which yields rela- 
tion of cause and effect, pre-supposes judgment of identity; 
without which there could be no recognition of an object as 

one observed before ■ . 263 

Hume makes conceptions of identity and cause each come before 

'the other 265 

Tbeir true correlativity 266 

Hume quite right in saying that we do not go morb beyond 

sense in reasoning than in perception 267 

How his doctrine might have been developed • • . 267 

Its actual outcome 268 

No philosophical relation admissible with Hume that is not 

derived firom a natural one 269 

Examination of his account of cause and effect as * natural rehi- 

lion' 270 

Double meaning of natural relation. How Hume turns it to 

account 271 

If an effect is merely a constantly observed sequence, how can 

an event be an effect the first time it is observed ? . • . 271 
Hume evades this question ; still, he is a long way off the Induc- 
tive Logic, which supposes an objective sequence . . 272 
Can the principle of uniformity of nature be derived from se- 
quence of feelings 7 273 

With Hume the only uniformity is in expectation, as determined 
by habit; but strength of such expectation must vary in* 

definitely 274 

It could not serve the same purpose as the conception of uni- 
formity of nature • • 275 



Hume changes the meaning of this expectation by his account 

of the ' remembrance ' which determines it . . . . 276 
Bearing of his doctrine of necessary connexion upon his argument 

against miracles 276 

This remembrance, «s he describes it, supposes conception of a 
system of nature . • ...... 277 

This explains his occasional inconsistent ascription of an objec- 
tive character to causation- ...... 278 

Beality of remembered ' system * transferred to ' system of judg- 
ment' 279 

Beality of the former ' system ' other than vivacity of impressions 280 
It is constituted by relations, which are not impressions at all ; 
and in this lies explanation of the inference from it to ^ sys- 
tem of judgment ' 281 

Not seeing this, Hume has to explain inference to latter system 

as something forced upon us by habit 282 

ButiftK), 'system of judgment* must consist of feelings con- 
stantly experienced which only differ from remembered feel- 
ings inasmuch as their liveliness has faded. . . . 288 
But how can it have faded, if they have been constantly repeated ? 284 
Inference then can give no new knowledge . • . • 285 
Nor does this merely mean that it cannot constitute new pheno- 
mena, while it can prove relations, previously unknown, be- 
tween phenomena • 286 

Such a distinction inadmissible with Hume .... 286 
His distinction of probabili^ of causes from that of chances 
might seem to imply conception of nature, as determining 

inference 287 

But this distinction he only professes to adopt in order to explain 

it away 288 

Laws of nature are unqualified habits of expectation . . 289 
Experience, according to his account of it, cannot be a parent of 

knowledge 290 

His attitude towards doctrine of thinking substance . . 291 

As to Immateriality of the Sotd, he plays off Locke and Berkeley 

against each other, and proves Berkeley a Spinozist . • 292 
Causality of spirit treated in the same way .... 293 

Disposes of ' personal ' identity by showing contradictions in 

Locke's account of it 295 

Yet can only account for it as a ' fiction ' by supposing ideas 

which with him are impossible 295 

In origin this ' fiction ' the same as that of * Body ' • . . 296 
Possibility of such fictitious ideas implies refutation of Hume's 
doctrine • • • • • 297 


n. Intboduotion to the MoRAJi Pabt of Hume's 

* Tbbatisb.' 


flume's doctrine of morals parallel to his doctrine of nature • . 301 

Its relation to Locke 801 

liocke's account of freedom, will, and desire .... 802 
Two questions : Does man always act from the strongest motive? 
and, What constitutes his motive ? The latter the important 

question 808 

Distinction between desires that are, and those that are not, de- 
termined by the conception of self 804 

Effect of this conception on the objects of human desire . . 804 
Objects so constituted Locke should consistently exclude: But 
he finds room for them by treating every desire for an ob- 
ject, of which the attainment gives pleasure, as a desire for 

pleasure 805 

Confusion covered by calling ' happiness ' the general object of 

desire 806 

' Greatest sum of pleasure ' and ' Pleasure in general ^ unmeaning 

expressions 807 

In what sense of happiness is it true that it ' is really just as it 

appears' 7 808 

In what sense, that it is every one's object 7 . . . . 809 
No real object of human desire can ever be just as it appears . 809 
Can Locke consistently aUow the distinction between true hap- 
piness and false ? 810 

Or responsibility 7 811 

Objections to the Utilitarian answer to these questions . .811 
According to Locke, present pleasures may be compared with 

future, and desire suspended till comparison has been made . 812 
What is meant by * present ' and * future ' pleasure ? . . ,814 
By the supposed comparison Locke ought only to have meant 
the competition of pleasures equally present in imagination : 
and this could give no ground for responsibility . . .815 
In order to do so, it must be imderstood as implying determina- 
tion by conception of self 816 

Locke finds moral freedom in necessity of pursuing happiness . 817 
If an action is moved by desire for an object, Locke asks no ques- 
tions about origin of the object 317 

But what is to be said of actions, which we only do because we 

ought 7 818 

Their object is pleasure, but pleasure given not by nature but by 

Uw 819 

Conformity to law not the moral good, but a means to it . . 820 



Hume has to denve from ^ impreflsions * the objects which Locke 

took for granted 820 

QuflBtions which he found at issae. a, Ii yirtue interested? 

b. What is conscience 7 821 

Hobbes* answer to first question . . • • • . . 822 
Counter-doctrine of Shaftesbury. Vice is selfishness • . 828 

But no clear account of selfishness 824 

Confusion in his notioDS of self-good and public good . . 824 
Is all living for pleasure, or only too much of it, selfish ? . . 825 
What have Butler and Hutcheson to say about it 7 • . . 825 
Chiefly that affections terminate upon their objects . . . 826 
But this does not exclude the view that all desire is for pleasure 826 
Of moral goodness Butler's accouut is circular .... 827 
Hutcheson's inconsistent with his doctrine that reason gives no 

end 828 

Source of the moral judgment . . . . , . 828 
Beceived notion of reason incompatible with true view . . 828 
Shaftesbury^s doctrine of rationad affection ; spoilt by doctrine of 

'moral sense' 829 

Consequences of the latter ........ 880 

Is an act done for ' virtue's sake ' done for plet^ure of moral 

sense7 , . ^ 881 

Hume excludes every object of desire but pleasure , , . 881 
His account of * direct passions ' ...... 882 

All desire is for pleasure 888 

Yet he admits ' passions ' which produce pleasure, but proceed 

not from it 888 

Desire for objects, as he understands it, excluded by his theory 

of impresidoQS and ideas , 884 

Pride determined by reference to self 835 

This means that it takes its character from that which is not a 

possible ' impression ' 886 

Hume's attempt to represent idea of self as derived fi^m impres- 
sion 837 

Another device is to suggest a physiological account of pride . 839 

Falkcy ofthis , . . 889 

It does not tell us what pride is to the subject of it . • 840 

Account of love involves the same difiiculties ; and a further one 

as to nature of sympathy 841 

Bume's account of sympathy , . 842 

it implies a self-consciousness not reducible to impressions , 848 

Ambiguity in his account of benevolence 844 

It is a desire and therefore has pleasure for its object , , 844 

What pleasure 7 845 

Pleasure of sympathy with the pleasure of another , . , 845 



All 'paanans* equally interested or diantereeted .... 846 
ConiiiBion arises from use of 'passion' alike for desire and 

emotioiL 347 

Of this Hume avails himself in his account of active pity . . 347 
Explanation of apparent conflict between reason and passion • 348 
A ' reasonable ' desire means one that excites little emotion . . 849 

Enumeration of possible motives 8«50 

If pleaimre sole motive, what is the distinction of self-love? . • 850 
Its opposition to diunterested desires, as commonly understood, 

disappears 851 

It is desire for pleasure in general . • ... 851 
How Hume gives meaning to this otherwise unmeanipg defini- 
tion 852 

* Interest/ like other motives described, implies determination by 

reason ' . . 858 

Thus Hume, having degraded morality for the sake of consistency, 

after aU is not consistent 858 

If all good is pleasure, what is moral good ? . . . . 854 

Ambigui^ in Locke's view 854 

Development of it by Clarke, which breaks down for want of true 

view of reason 855 

With Hume, moral good is pleasure excited in a particular way, 
viz. : in the spectator of the ' good ' act and by the view of its 

tendency to produce pleasure 856 

Moral sense is thus sympathy with pleasure qualified by consider- 
ation of general tendencies 358 

In order to account for the facts it has to become sympathy with 

unfelt feelings 359 

Can the distinction between the ' moral ' and ' natural ' be main- 
tained by Hume? 859 

What is ' artificial virtue ' ? 360 

No ground for such distinction in relation between motive and 

act 861 

Motive to artificial virtues 862 

How artificial virtues become moral ...... 868 

Interest and»Bympathy account for all obligations civil and moral 864 
What is meant by an action which ought to be done • . 865 
Sense of moiali^ no motive .... , . 866 

When it seems so the motive is really pride .... 367 

Distincdon between virtuous and vicious motive does not exist 
for person moved 867 

* Gonsciousneas of sin ' disappears ...... 369 

Only respectability remains 369 

And even this not consistently accounted for . . . .870 

xxu contents of 

Mb. Hesbebt Spenoeb aitd Mb. G. H. Lbweb: Theib 






Current English pBychology ignores the metaphjsical question 

raised by Hume : 378 

The question, yi^. How is knowledge possible? Necessity for 

asking it 874 

Current psychology does not really discard metaphysics . . 875 
Meaning of the question, How is knowledge possible ? . . 876 
It concerns the object of knowledge, and must be answered before 

the subjective process can be investigated .... 377 
Lockers double interpretation of the doctrine that knowledge is of 

'ideas' 878 

Its development by Berkeley : 879 

And by Hume 880 

The modern 'ezperientialist' does not oomplete, but misunder- 
stands Hume's doctrine : 882 

As he does also that of Kant, which is not touched by the doc- 
trine of ' transmission ' 888 

For the question still remains, How do there come to be ' &cts ' 

or an * objective world 7 * 384 

A relation between subject and object is the datum of Mr. Spen- 
cer's system. His conception of ' idealism ' . . . . 885 
True idealistic view of the relation of subject and object . . 886 
Mr. Spencer explains knowledge from the independent action of 

object on subject, yet presupposes their mutual relation : . 888 
Though his order of statement disguises this inconsistency . . 388 
His ' object ' is both ' in ' and ' out of ' consciousness • . 389 
Which ia inconsistent with its being a ' vivid aggregate ' of states 

of consciousness 391 

How does he make this ' aggregate ' into an ' unknowable reality 

beyond consciousness ' ? 892 

Only (like Ix>cke) by confusing feeling of touch with the judg- 
ment of solidity : 393 

Le. by tacitly substituting for succession of feelings an experience 

of cause and substaooe 394 

He thus virtually adopts the idealism of Berkeley and Hume : . 396 
Of which he misunderstands his own refutation : • . . 398 



CoaSamng oonacioiunesa for which there is neither subject nor 

object with that in which both are immanent . • . 398 

Thus his ' matter ' is no more ' independent' than his ' mind ' . 400 
In truth he does not mean ' independence,' but mutual antithesis . 401 
A. relation bj no means derivable from that between ' yivid ' and 

•fidnt' 402 

His ' Tiyid aggregates ' would be nothing without * faint ' ones : . 403 
/.<• without qualification by memory and inference . • . 404 
He does not see this because he makes sensations = consciousness 

of sensible objects 405 

But a succession of sensations cannot form an aggregate independ- 
ently of a subject 407 

Nor does he really conceire them as thus independent . . • 408 

PAET n. 


Do ' Tiyid aggregates ' enter at all into the objective world 7 . 410 

Le, is sensation, as such, an element in perception ? • • • 410 

No ; ' facts of feeling ' as perceived are not feelings as felt : • .411 

Not even the simplest facts, whether subjective, . • . 412 

Or objective, for the minimum percipihile is not, and does not con- 
tain, sensation . • • « 418 

A sensation can have no parts or related elements, which a per- 
ceived object must have 414 

Nor does the distinction between 'vivid' and 'faint ' apply to such 
an object 416 

For it is either a fact, or a possibility of it, and neither of these 
can be vivid or fiiint 416 

Nor is the act of perception vivid or faint, but clear or not 
dear 418 

Nor is the distinction between perceived and conceived or im- 
agined objects that between vivid and faint .... 419 

Is then the perceived (' real ') thing identical with the conceived 
('logical')? 420 

Yes, so &r as relations to feeling, actual or possible, constitute 
both alike 421 

Nezty suppose ' matter ' to be something ' beyond ' the ' vivid 
states,' on which they depend 422 

This indeed is inconsistent with Mr. Spencer's language . . 423 

But when he speaks of ' states of consciousness ' he does not really 
mean these 423 

As appears from his inconsistent account of their antecedence and 
consequence . • .^^,^' l, '' . ■ — -^ . . 424 




His eqimvocal use of ' antecedent * 426 

It cannot be both a cause and a state of conscionsnefu : . • 427 
Wlidther it be conceiyed onlj or perceiyed also • • . . 428 
States of consciousness are either appearances of an order of 

nature or nothing real 428 

The real world not being states of consciousness, is it (as ' matter') 

' independent of consciousness ' ? 429 

I.e. what is the ' something else ' bj relation to which all states of 

consciousness are determined? 430 

Inconsistent yiews of this held together by Mr. Spencer . .431 
For true idealism ego and non-ego are correlatiye factors of one 

reality— thought 432 

Mr. Spencer's doctrine of the independence of matter as either the 

source or manifestation of force 433 

A feeling cannot be an ' impression of force/ unless ' feeling ' be 

used in a double sense : 433 

As Mr. Spencer himself seems sometimes to recognise . . 436 

In any case consciousness is not changes, but cognition of them 437 
Which cannot be derived from any multiplication of feelings . 437 
Unless (as by Mr. Spencer) it is already implied in them . . 438 
Without this paralogism can experience of force be treated as an 

effect of force ? 439 

Three questions inyolyed in this; ambiguously answered by 

physical psychology : 440 

Of which (Mr. Spencer failing) Mr. Lewes is ihe best exponent 441 

PART m. 


Is ' experience,' as defined by Mr. Lewes, a sequence of psy- 
chical eyents? 442 

They would not be eyents but for something not an eyent : . 443 
Nor felt things but for something not a feeling .... 444 
Unity of consciousness is the condition alike of ' succession,' of 

' neural tremors,' and of ' differentiation of feeling ' . . 445 
Mr. Lewes' account of 'object' partly recognises, partly ignores, 

this principle 445 

Competitiye theories in his peycholpgy 447 

His ' ideal ' aspect of feeling is either ' actual ' feeUng, or a judg- 
ment, i,e, no feeling at aU 447 

While his ' actual ' feeling, if it is to be of the real, inyolyes 

' ideal ' aspects 449 

In fact, he ignores the distinction between succession of feelings 
and consciousness of succession 440 



I A ^%fimetion ascribed to feeling is incompatible with tHe origin 
ascribed to it 451 

For 'feeling of relations' cannot arise (1) from 'grouping of 
neural units' 452 

Nor (2) from ' the process of change in the relations ' of the cor- 
responding feelings 453 

Unless the process is already a processybr a conscioua subject . 454 

Thus only by a double use of ' feeling ' can the experience of 
ibroe be explained as a result of force 455 

Can it be explained from the ' psychological medium ' or ' psycho- 
plasm'? 457 

Mr. Lewes' account of ' psychoplasm ' 457 

Is the ' experience ' which it explains experience of a cosmos ? . 459 

* Experience ' may mean sequence of impressions or connected 
consciousness of fiicts, but not both 460 

The psychoplasm, as ' neural tremors ' and ' groups,' is not ex- 
perioioe in either sense 461 

For (1) it is only part of the conditions of the sequence of im- 
pressions 461 

And (2) as the medium in which ' the cosmos arises,' it is quite 
other than neural processes 462 

This ambiguous account of * psychoplasm ' is really accommodated 
to a preconceived view of experience 468 

Two distinct senses of ' accumulation of feelings ' . . . 465 

The consciousness which makes successive feelings into experi- 
ence cannot be ' evolved ' from progressive modifications of the 
organism 466 

They have nothing in common, and the latter would not be an 
object at all but for the former 467 

Umm6 of equivocations in the physical derivation of experience . 468 

Transition to the * social medium ' 469 



Mr. Lewes' doctrine of the ' social medium' . . . .471 

It implies an active self-consciousness which he ignores or re- 
jects 472 

Cen the function of ' thinking the world ' be evolved from that 
of 'feeling' it? 472 

Only if feeling is already fused with thought, i.e. not reducible to 
neural process . • ^. • 478 

The question cannot be settled by comparison of man with lower 
organisms 474 



For physiological proceBses are not continued into conaciooanesB, 
as chemical processes are into life 475 

Nor can they be 'uniform antecedents' of consciousness, for 
consciousness of an event is not itself an event • . . 476 

True that we are conscious of objects in an order, in which each 
is determined by the preceding 477 

But this order does not belong to or determine the matter of 
which we are conscioua 478 

Thus the antecedents to a state of consciousness as an event tell 
us nothing of it as oanscumsness 479 

This statement does not commit us to the ' introspective * method 
of psychology 480 

The fallacy of which, in treating the object as ' outside ' con- 
sciousness, is shared by the ' objective ' method . . . 481 

For physiology cannot account for a process in which it is itself 
only a stage 483 

Mr. Lewes escapes ' idealism ' by making sentience s neural re- 
action and ' feeling of a world ' 484 

His 'realism' 484 

He makes the object external to its own internal &ctor, and yet 
the correlative of it 485 

Nor can ' object ' be understood in any sense which does not 
imply relation to consciousness 486 

Cosmic forces are as truly * objective' before the banning of 
sentient life as after it 487 

Equivocation between response to stimulus and consciousness of 
facts. Effect on his doctrine of perception .... 488 

Of this the key lies in his doctrine of the real. What then is 
given in 'feeling'? 489 

His answer implies three conflicting views : (1) The real == the 
external as external 491 

How, then, can sensation be like the real ? Only if he makes (2) 
the real = feeling 492 

Which again implies that there is no real at all unless (8) it = 
uniform relations of feeling • • . . . 493 

He himself implies that the real is not the external as suchf but 
as determined by relation 494 

In truth it has nothing to do with externality, but with interpre- 
tation of feeling 494 

Le^ it is feeling, not as such, but as cause or effect of something 
not felt 496 

Why nevertheless ' common sense' identifies the real with the ex- 
ternal 498 

Mr. Lewes retains this view along with a truer one, which logi- 
cally does away with it 499 



Effect on bu aocoont of perception. * Neural reaction ' = ' feeling 
an objective world ' 500 

Why, then, does be not identify tbe object feh with the exciting 
vibrationB? 501 

The truth is that his * perception ' is something quite other than 
^neural reaction' 503 

View (1) that perception = assimilation of object (physical en- 
vironment) by subject (sentient organism) .... 504 

If assimilation means transference from without to within con- 
sciousness, it is a fiction 505 

[f it means neural reaction on stimulus, it is not assimilation of 
an* object' 506 

He confuses the external stimuli with the permanent relations 
between them and sense ; 507 

And revival of past by present feeling with reference of combined 
feelings to one object 508 

He ignores distinction between coincidence of feelings and infer- 
ence to their possible reproduction 510 

How, again, can feelings felt together or succeHsirely be consci- 
ousness of an 'individual object'? 512 

If 'individuality' means relation to sense of a 'here and now' 
qualified by relations to a ' there and then ' . • . .518 

In fact, if the conceptual function is excluded from perception, no 
object remains to be perceived 514 

What does Mr. Lewes understand by ' conception ' 7 True mean- 
ing of ' abstract general ideas ' 515 

In what sense are they ' symbolical'? 516 

They are * realised,' not by reduction to sensations, but by pro- 
duction of sensation under known conditions . . . .518 

If they could be so reduced, they would no longer form part of 
our knowledge of a world 519 

Av Aksweb to Mb. Hodgson 521 




^ALlFORNiA;,. - -'' 


Thbrb is a view of the history of mankind, by this time How Ui« 
fiuniliariaed to Englishmen, which detaches from the chaos ^jf^^^ 
of events a connected series of ruling actions and beliefs — ihould W 
the achievement of great men and great epochs, and assigns '^^^ 
to these in a special sense the term ' historical.' AccordLig 
to this theory — which indeed, if there is to be a theory of 
History at all, alone gives the needM simplification — the 
mass of nations must be regarded as left in swamps and shal* 
lows ontside the main stream of human development. They 
have either never come within the reach of tiie hopes and 
institntions which make history a progress instead of a cycle, 
or they have stiffened these into a dead body of ceremony 
and caste, or at some great epoch they have ftdled to discern 
the sign of the times and rejected the counsel of God against 
themselves. Thus permanently or for generations, with no 
principle of motion but unsatisfied want, without the assimi* 
lative ideas which £rom the strife of passions elicit moral 
results, they have trodden the old round of war, trade, and 
fitetion, adding nothing to the spiritual heritage of man. It 
would seem that the historian need not trouble himself with 
them, except so far as relation to them determines the ac- 
tivily of the progressive nations. 

2. A corresponding theory may with some confidence be 
applied to simplify the history of philosophical opinion. The 
common plan of seeking this history in compendia of the 
systems of philosophical writers, taken in the gross or with 
no discrimination except in regard to time and popularity, is 
mainly to blame for the common notion that metaphysical 
enquiry is an endless process of thi-eshing old straw. Such 
enquiry is really progressive, and has a real history, but it is 
a history represented by a few great names. At rare epochs 
there appear men, or sets of men, with the true speculative 

VOL. I. B 


Hume the 
last great 

Kant hi« 

impulse to begin at the beginniug and go to the end, and 
with the faculty of discerning the true point of departure 
which previous speculation has fixed for them. The intervals 
are occupied by commentators and exponents of the last true 
philosopher, if it has been his mission to construct ; if it has 
been sceptical, hj writers who cannot understand the fatal 
question that he has asked, and thus still dig in the old vein 
which he had exhausted, and of which his final dilemma had 
shown the bottom. Such an interval was that which in the 
growth of continental philosophy followed on the epoch of 
Leibnitz ; an interval of academic exposition or formulation, 
in which the system, that had been to the master an incom- 
plete enquiry, became in the hands of his disciples a one- 
sided dogmatism. In the line of speculation more dis- 
tinctively English, a like rSgime of ^sti'enua inertia' has 
prevailed since the time of Hume. In the manner of its un- 
profitableness, indeed, it has differed from the Wolfian period 
in Germany, just as the disinterested scepticism of Hume 
differed from the system-making for purposes of edification 
to which Leibnitz applied himself. It has been unprofitable, 
because its representatives have persisted ia philosophising 
upon principles which Hume had pursued to their legitimate 
issue and had shown, not as their enemy but as their advo- 
cate, to render all philosophy futile. Adopting the premises 
and method of Locke, he cleared them of all illogical adap- 
tations to popular belief, and experimented with them on the 
body of professed knowledge, as one only could do who had 
neither any twist of vice nor any bias for doing good, but 
was a philosopher because he could not help it. 

8. As the result of the experiment, the method, which 
began with professing to explain knowledge, showed know- 
ledge to be impossible. Hume himself was perfectly cognisant 
of this result, but his successors in England and Scotland 
would seem so far to have been unable to look it in the &ce. 
They have either thrust their heads again into the bush of 
uncriticised belief, or they have gone on elaborating Hume'« 
doctrine of association, in apparent forgetfulness of Hume's 
own proof of its insu£Sciency to account for an intelligent, as 
opposed to a merely instinctive or habitual, experience. An 
enquiry, however, so thorough and passionless as the ^Treatise 
of Human Nature,' could not be in vain ; and if no English 
athlete had strength to carry on the torch, it was transferred 


to a more yigorous line in Germany. It awoke Kant, as he 
used to say, from his * dogmatic slumber/ to put him into 
that state of mind by some called wonder, by others doubt, 
in which all true philosophy begins. This state, with less 
ambiguity of terms, may be described as that of freedom 
from presuppositions. It was because Eant, reading Hume 
with the eyes of Leibnitz and Leibnitz with the eyes of Hume, 
was able to a great extent to rid himself of the presupposi- 
tions of both, that he started that new method of philosophy 
which, as elaborated by Hegel, claims to set man free from 
the artificial impotence of his own false logic, and thus qualify 
him for a complete interpretation of his own achievement 
in knowledge and morali^. Thus the^^JTreatise of Human 
Nature* and the * Critic of Pure Eeason,'. taken together, 
form the real bridge between the old world of philosophy 
and the new. They are the essential ^ Propsedeutik,' without 
which no one is a qualified student oC/modem philosophy. 
The close correspondence between ti^ two works becomes 
more apparent the more each is studied. It is such as to 
give a strong presumption that Kant had studied Hume's 
doctrine in its original and complete expression, and not 
merely as it was made easy in the ^ Essays.' The one with 
full and reasoned articulation asks the question, which the 
other with equal fulness seeks to answer. It is probably be- 
cause the question in its complete statement has been so little 
studied among us, that the intellectual necessity of the 
Elantian answer has been so little appreciated. To trace the 
origm ftuU bring out the points of the question, in order to 
the exhibition of that necessity, will be the object of the 
foUowing .treatise. To do this thoroughly, indeed, would 
carry us back through Hobbes to Bacon. But as present 
lindts do not allow of so long a journey, we must be content 
with showing Hume's direct filiation to Locke, who, indeed, 
sufficiently gathered up the results of the ' empirical ' philo- 
sophy of his predecessors. 

4. Such a task is very different from an ordinary under- BiBUncUoo 
taking in literary history, and requires different treatment. litSwy 
To the historian of literature a philosopher is interesting, if at histoiyand 
all, on account of the personal qualities which make a great of\,w"i^ 
writer, and have a permanent effect on letters and general phical sya- 
culture. Locke and Hume undoubtedly had these qualities 
and produced such an effect — an effect in Locke's case more 



intense apon the immediately following generations, but in 
Hume's more remarkable as having reappeared after neai' a 
century of apparent forgetfulness. Each, indeed, like every 
true philosopher, was the mouth-piece of a certain system of 
thought determined for him by the stage at which he found 
the dialectic movement that constitutes the progresfijoLphila* 
sophy, but each gave to this system the stamp of that 
personal power which persuades men. Their mode of expres- 
sion had none of that academic or ^ ex cathedra ' character, 
which has made Grerman philosophy almost a foreign litera- 
ture in the country of its birth. They wrote as citizens and 
men of the world, anxious (in no bad sense) for effect ; and 
even when their conclusions were remote from popular belief, 
still presented them in the flesh and blood of current terms 
used in the current senses. It is not, however, in their 
human individuality and its effects upon literature, but as 
the vehicles of a system of thought, that it is proposed here 
to treat them ; and this purpose will best be fulfilled if we 
follow the line of their speculation without divergence into 
literary criticism or history, without remarks either on the 
peculiarities of their genius or on any of the secondary 
influences which affected their writings or arose out of them. 
For a method of this sort, it would seem, there is some need 
among us. We have been learning of late to know much 
more about philosophers, but it is possible for knowledge 
about philosophers to flourish inversely as the knowledge of 
philosophy. The revived interest which is noticeable in the 
history of philosophy may be an indication either of philo- 
sophical vigour or of phUosophical decay. In those whom 
intellectual indolence, or a misunderstood and disavowed 
metaphysic, has landed in scepticism there often survives a 
curiosity about the literary history of philosophy, and the 
writings which this curiosity produces tend further to spread 
the notion that philosophy is a matter about which there 
has been much guessing by great intellects, but no definite 
truth is to be attained. It is otherwise with those who aee in 
philosophy a progressive effort towards a fuUy-articul^ted 
conception of the world as rational. To them its past history 
is of interest as representing steps in this progress which 
have already been taken for us, and which, if we will make 
them our own, carry us so far on onr way towards the freedom 
of perfect understanding; while to ignore them is not t<% 


retain to the simplicity of a pre-philosopliic age, but to con- 
demn onrselyes to grope in the maze of ^cultivated opinion/ 
itself the confused result of those past systems of thought 
which Ve will not trouble ourselves to think out. 

5. The value of that system of thought, which found its Object of 
clearest expression in Hume, lies in its being an eflFort to think ^q^®°^ 
to their logical issue certain notions which since then have 
beoome^commonplaces with educated Englishmen, but which, 
for that reason, we must detach ourselves from popular con- 
troversy to appreciate, rightly. We are familiar enough with 
these in the form to which adaptation to the needs of plausi- 
biliiy has gradually reduced them, but because we do not 
think them out with the consistency of their original ex- 
ponents, we miss their true value. They do not carry us, 
as they will do if we restore their original significance, by an 
inteUectual necessity to those truer notions which, in fact, 
have been their- sequel in the development of philosophy, but 
have not yet found their way into the * culture ' of our time. 
An attempt 'to restore their value, however, if this be the 
right view of its nature, cannot but seem at first sight invi<^ 
dious. It will seem as if, while we talk of their value, we 
were impertinently trying to 'pull them to pieces.' But 
those who understand the difference between philosophical 
fidlures, which are so because they are anachronisms, and 
those which in their failure have brought out a new truth 
and compelled a step forward in the progress of thought, will 
understand that a process, which looks like pulling a great 
philosopher to pieces, may be the true way of showing 
reverence for his greatness. It is a Pharisaical way of 
building the sepulchres of philosophers to profess their doc- 
trine or extol their genius without making their spirit our 
own. The genius of Locke and Hume was their readiness 
to foUow the lead of Ideas : their spirit was the spirit of 
Rationalism — the spirit which, however baffled and forced 
into inconsistent admissions, is still governed by the faith 
that all things may ultimately be understood. We best do 
reverence to their genius, we most truly appropriate their 
spirit, in so exploring the difficulties to which their enquiry 
led, as to find in them the suggestion of a theory which may 
help us to walk firmly where they stumbled and fell. 

6. About Locke, as about every other philosopher, the ^^il^ 
essential questions are. What was his problem, and what was and 



His notion 
of the 
' thinking 

This he 
will pas- 
sively ob- 

his method? Locke, as a man of business, gives us the 
answers at starting. His problem was the origin of * ideas' 
in the individual man, and their, connection as constituting 
knowledge : his method that of simply ^ looking into his ovni 
understanding and seeing how it wrought.' These answers 
commend themselves to common sense, and still form the 
text of popular psychology. If its confidence in their value, 
as explained by Locke, is at all beginning to be shaken, this 
is not because, according to a strict logical development, 
they issued in Hume's unanswered scepticism, which was too 
subtle for popular effect, but because they are now open to a 
rougher battery from the physiologists. Oar concern at 
present is merely to show their precise meaning, and the 
difficulties which according to this meaning they involve. 

7. There are two propositions on which Locke is constantly 
insisting : one, that the object of his investigation is hds awn 
mind ; the other, that his attitude towards this object is that 
of mere observation. He speaks of his own mind, it is to be 
noticed, just as he might of his own body* It meant some- 
thing bom with, and dependent on, the particular animal 
organism that first saw the light at Wrington on a particular 
day in 1632. It was as exclusive of other minds as his body 
of other bodies, and he could only infer a resemblance be- 
tween them and it. With all his animosity to the coarse 
spiritualism of the doctrine of innate ideas, he was the victim 
of the same notion which gave that doctrine its falsehood and 
grotesijueness. He, just as much as the untutored Cartesian, 
regarded the ^ minds ' of different men as so many different 
things ; and his refutation of the objectionable hypothesis 
proceeds wholly fi^m this view. Whether the mind is put 
complete into the body, or is bom and grows with it ; vrhether 
it has certain characters stamped upon it to begin with, or 
receives all its ideas through the senses ; whether it is simple 
and therefore indiscerptible, or compound and therefore 
perishable — all these questions to Locke, as to his opponents, 
concern a multitude of ^ thinking things ' in him and them, 
merely individual, but happening to be pretty much alike. 

8. This ^ thinking thing,' then, as he finds it in himself, 
the philosopher, according to Locke, has merely and passively 
to observe, in order to understand the nature of knowledge. 
* I could look into nobody's understanding but my own to 
see how it wrought,' he says, but ' I think the intellectual 


bcjilHes are made «&d operate alike in most men. But if it 
should happen not to be so, I can only make it my humble 
request, in my own name and in the name of those that are 
of my size, who find their minds work, reason, and know in 
the same low way that mine does, that the men of a more 
happy genius will show us the way of their nobler flights.' — 
(Second Letter to Bishop of Worcester.) As will appear in 
the sequel, it is from this imaginary method of ascertaining 
the origin and nature of knowledge by passive observation of 
what goes on in one's own mind that the embarrassments of 
Locke's system flow. It was the function of Hume to exhibit 
the radical flaw in his master's method by following it with 
more than his master's rigour. 

9. As an observation of the * thinking thing,' the * philo- !• miAob. 
sophy of mind ' seems to assume the character of a natural poadble^ 
science, and thus at once acquires definiteness, and if not cer- 
tainty, at least plausibility. To deny the possibility of such 
observation, in any proper sense of the word, is for most men 
to tamper with tiie unquestioned heritage of all educated 
intelligence. Hence the unpalatability of a consistent Posi- 
tivism ; hence, too, on the other side, the general conviction 
that the Hegelian reduction of Psychology to Metaphysics is 
either an intellectual juggle, or a wilful return of the philo- 
sophy, which psychologists had washed, to the mire of 
scholasticism. It is the more important to ascertain what 
the observation in question precisely means. What observes, 
and what is observed? According to Locke (and empirical 
psychology has never substantially varied the answer) the\ 
matter to be observed consists for each man firstiy in certain 
impressions of his own individual mind, by which this mind 
from being a mere blank has become furnished — by which, 
in other words, his mind has become actually a mind ; and, 
secondly, in certain operations, which the mind, thus consti- 
tuted, performs upon the materials which constitute it. Th^ 
observer, all the while, is the constituted mind itself. The 
question at once arises, how the developed man can observe 
in himself (and it is only to himself, according to Locke, 
that he can look) that primitive state in which his mind was 
a ^ tabula rasa.' In the first place, that only can be observed 
which is present; and the state in question to the supposed 
observer is past. If it be replied that it is recalled by me- 
mory, there is the farther objection that memory only recalli 


what has been preyiouslj known, and how is a man's own 
primitive consciousness, as yet void of the content which is 
supposed to come to it through impressions, originall j known 
to him P How can the ^ tabula rasa ' be cognisant of itself P 
Why it 10. The cover under which this difficulty was hidden from 

Mean to. ijQctg^ as from popular psychologists ever since, consists in 
the implicit assumption of certain ideas, either as possessed 
by or acting upon the mind in the supposed primitive state, 
which are yet held to be arrived at by a gradual process of 
comparison, abstraction, and generalisation. This assump- 
tion, which renders the whole system resting upon the inter- 
rogation of consciousness a paralogism, is yet the condition 
of its apparent possibility. It is only as already charged 
with a conte^t which is yet (and for the individual, truly) 
maintained to be the gradual acquisition of experience, that 
the primitive consciousness has any answer to give to its 
cw^of**" ^^' ^* ^^ consider the passage where Locke sums up his 
origin of theory of the ^ original of our ideas.' (Book ii. chap. i. 
^^^ sec. 23, 24.) ^ Since there appear not to be any ideas in the 
mind, before the senses have conveyed any in, I conceive 
that ideas in the understanding are coeval with sensation ; 
which is such an impression, made in some part of the body, 
as produces some perception in the understanding. It is 
about these impressions made on our senses by outward 
objects, that the mind seems first to employ itself in such 
operations as we call perception, remembering, considera- 
tion, reasoning, &c. In time the mind comes to reflect on 
its own operations about thd ideas got by sensation, and 
thereby stores itself with a new set of ideas, which I call 
ideas of reflection. These impressions that are made on our 
senses by outward objects, that are extrinsical to the mind; 
and its own operations, proceeding from powers intrinsical 
and proper to itself, which, when reflected on by itself, be- 
come also objects of its contemplation, are, as I have said, 
the original of all knowledge.' 
Iteambi- 12. Can we from this passage elicit a distinct account of 
I^JvjJ^^ the beginning of intelligence ? In the first place it consists 
ffod to in an ^ idea,' and an idea is elsewhere (Introduction, sec. 8) 
stated to be ' whatsoever is the object of the understanding, 
when a man thinks.' But the primary idea is an ^ idea of 
sensation.' Does this mean that the primary idea %8 a sen- 


Sfttion, or is a distinction to be made between the sensation 
and the idea thereof? The passage before ns would seem to 
impljr sach a distinction. Looking merely to it, we should 
prolMibly saj that bj sensation Locke meant * an impression 
or motion in some part of the body ; ' by the idea of sensation 
* a perception in the understanding,' which this impression 
produces. The account of perception itself gives a different 
result. (Book ii. chap. ix. sec. 3.) * Whatever impressions 
are made on the outward parts, if they are not taken notice 
of within, there is no perception. Fire may bum our bodies 
with no other effect than it does a billet, unless the motion 
be continued to the brain, and there the sense of heat or idea 
of pain be produced in the mind, wherein consists actual 
pereepUonJ Here sensation is identified at once with the 
idea and with perception, as opposed to the impression on 
the bodily organs.' To confound the confusion still farther, 
in a passage immediately preceding the above, ^Perception,' 
here identified with the idea of sensation, has been distin- 
guished firom it, as ^ exercised about it.' ^ Perception, as it 
is the first faculty of the mind exercised about our ideas, so 
it is the first and simplest idea we have from reflection.' 
Taking Locke at his word, then, we find the beginning of 
intelligence to consist in having an idea of sensation. 
This idea, however, we perceive, and to perceive is to have 
an idea ; i.e. to have an idea of an idea of sensation. But 
of perception again we have a simple or primitive idea. 
Therefore the beginning of intelligence consists in having an 
idea of an idea of an idea of sensation. 

13. By insisting on Locke's account of the relation between (5) In n- 
the ideas of sensation and those of reflection we might be ^^^f 
brought to a different but not more luminous conclusion. In reflection. 
the passages quoted above, where this relation is most fully 
spoken of, it appears that the latter are essentially sequent 
to those of sensation. ^ In time the mind comes to reflect on 
its own operations, about the ideas got by sensation, and 
thereby stores itself with a new set of ideas, which I call 
ideas of reflection.' Of these only two are primary and ori- 

■ Cf. Book n. chap. ziz. sec 1. 'The thinking, famishes the mind with a 

pere^tiom, which aetnAllj aocompanies distinct idea which we call senscUiou ; 

and IS annexed to any impression on the which is, as it were, the actual entrance 

body, made hj an eztamal objec^ being of any idea into the nndemtanding by 

^isrinfit from all other modifications of the senses.' 


g^inal (Book n. c. xxi. sec. 73)9yiz. motivitj or power otmoving^ 
with which we are not at present concerned, and perceptivity 
or power of perception. But according to Locke, as we have 
seen, there cannot be any, the simplest, idea of sensation 
without perception. If, then, the idea of perception is 
only given later and upon reflection, we must suppose per- 
ception to take place without any idea of it. But with Locke 
to have an idea and to perceive are equivalent terms. We 
must thus conclude that the beginning of knowledge is an 
unperceived perception, which is against his express state- 
ment elsewhere (Book ii. c. xxviL sec. 9), that it is * impos- 
sible for any one to perceive without perceiving that he does 
Wliat is 14. Meanwhile a perpetual equivocation is kept up between 

^DNM^f a supposed impression on the ^outward parts,' and a supposed 
impression on the ^ tablet of the mind.' It is not tixe im- 
pression upon, or a motion in, the outward parts, as Locke 
admits, that constitutes the idea of sensation. It is not an 
agitation in the tympanum of the ear, or a picture on the 
retina of the eye, that we are conscious of when we see a 
sight or hear a sound.' The motion or impression, however, 
has only, as he seems to suppose, to be * continued to the 
brain/ and it becomes an idea of sensation. Notwithstand- 
ing the rough line of distinction between soul and body, 
which he draws elsewhere, his theory was practically 
governed by the supposition of a cerebral something, in 
which, as in a third equivocal tablet, the imaginary mental 
and bodily tablets are blended. If, however, the idea of sen- 
sation, as an object of the understanding when a man thinks, 
differs absolutely from ^ a motion of the outward parts,' it 
does so no less absolutely, however language and metaphor 
may disguise the difference, from such motion as ^ continued 
to the brain.' An instructed man, doubtless, may come to 
think about a motion in his brain, as about a motion of the 
earth round the sun, but to speak of such motion as an idea 
of sensation or an immediate object of intelligent sense, is to 
confiise between the object of consciousness and a possible 
physical theory of the conditions of that consciousness. It is 

> Ct I<ocke*B own statement (Book ideas ; and two ideas so different and 

m. It. sec 10). *The canse of anj distant one firom another, that no two 

sensation, and the sensation itself, in aU ean be more so.* 
the simple ideas of one sense, are two 


only, however, by such an equivocation that any idea, accord- 
ing to Locke's account of the idea, can be described as an 
^ impression ' at all, or that the representation of the mind as 
a tablet, whether bom blank or with characters stamped on 
it, has even an apparent meaning. A metaphor, interpreted 
as a fact, becomes the basis of his philosophical system. 

15. As applied to the ideas of reflection, indeed, the meta- Does tho 
phor loses even its plausibility. In its application to the P'^dinaiw 
ideas of sensation it gains popular acceptance from the ready sions on 
confusion of thought and matter in the imaginary cerebral ^^^^^ 
tablet, and the supposition of actual impact upon this by 

* outward things.' But in the case of ideas of reflection, it is 
the mind that at once gives and takes the impression. It 
mast be supposed, that is, to make impressions on itself. 
Trhere is the further difficulty that as perception is necessary 
in order to give an idea of sensation, the impress of percep- 
tion must be taken by the mind in its earliest receptivity ; 
or, in other words, it must impress itself while still a blank, 
still void of any * furniture * wherewith to make the impres- 
jion. There is no escape fi'om this result unless we suppose 
perception to precede the idea of it by some interval of time, 
which lands us, as we have seen, in the counter difficulty of 
supposing an unperceived perception. Locke disguises the 
difficuliy from himself and his reader by constantly shifting 
both the receptive subject and the impressive matter. We 
find the * tablet ' perpetually receding. First it is the * out- 
ward part ' or bodily organ. Then it is the brain, to which 
the impression received by the outward part must somehow 
be continued, in order to produce sensation. Then it is the 
perceptive mind, which takes an impression of the sensation 
or has an idea of it. Finally, it is the reflective mind, upon 
which in turn the perceptive mind makes impressions. But 
the hasty reader, when he is told that the mind is passively 
impressed with ideas of reflection, is apt to forget that the 
matter which thus impresses it is, according to Locke's show- 
ing, simply its perceptive, i.e. its passive, self*. 

16. The real source of these embarrassments in Locke's Sonroe of 
theory, it must be noted, lies in the attempt to make the in- ^J^^**' 
dividual consciousness give an answer to its interrogator as 

to the beginning of knowledge. The individual looking back 
on an imaginary earliest experience pronounces himself in 
that experience to have been simply sensitive and passive. 


xije But by this he means consciously sensitive of somethditg 

•simple and coiisciously passive m relation to something. That is, he 
Locke de- s^ipposes the primitive experience to have involved conscions- 
BcribeB it, ness of a self on the one hand and of a thing on the other, 
plex**^ as well as of a relation between the two. In the *idea of 
of sub- sensation' as Locke conceived it, snch a consciousness is 
fSation. clearly implied, notwithstanding his confusion of terms. The 
idea is a perception, or consciousness of a thing^ as opposed 
to a sensation proper or affection of the bodily organs. Of 
the perception, again, there is an idea, i.e. a consciousness 
by the man, in the perception, of himself in negative relation 
to the thing that is his object, and this consciousness (if we 
would make Locke consistent in excluding an unperceived 
perception) must be taken to go along with the perceptive 
act itself. No less than this indeed can be involved in any 
act that is to be the beginning of knowledge at all. It is the 
minimum of possible thought or intelligence, and the think- 
ing man, looking for this beginning in the earliest experience 
of the individual human animal, must needs find it there. 
But this meai)^ no less than that he is finding there already 
the conceptions of substance and relation. Hence a double 
contradiction : firstly, a contradiction between the primari- 
ness of self-conscious cognisance of a thing, as the beginning 
of possible knowledge, on the one hand, and the primariness 
of animal sensation in the history of the individual man on 
the other ; secondly, a contradiction between the primariness 
in knowledge of the ideas of substance and relation, and the 
seemingly gradual attainment of th(se * abstractions * by the 
individual intellect. The former oi these contradictions is 
blurred by Locke in the two main confusions which we have 
so far noticed : (a) the confusion between sensation proper 
and perception, which is covered under the phrase * idea of 
sensation ; ' a phrase which, if sensation means the fibrst act of 
intelligence, is pleonastic, and if it means the ^ motion of the 
outward parts continued to the brain,' is unmeaning ; and (fe) 
the confusion between the physical affection of the brain and 
the act of the self-conscious subject, covered under the equi- 
vocal metaphor of impression. The latter contradiction, that 
concerning the ideas of substance and relation, has to be 
further considered. 
TODtia^ 17. It is not difficult to show that to have a simple idea, 
tion is dis- accordiug to Locke's account of it, means to have already the 



eonoeption of substance and relation, which are yet according 
to him ^ complex and derived ideas,' ' the workmanship of 
the mind' in opposition to its original material, the result 
of its action in opposition to what is given it as passive* 
The equivocation in terms under which this contradiction 
is generally covered is that between ^ idea ' and * quality.' 
' Whatever the mind perceives in itself, or is the immediate 
object of perception, thought, or understanding, that I call 
idea ; and the power to produce that idea I call quality of the 
subject wherein that power is. Thus a snowball having 
power to produce in us the ideas of white, cold, and round, 
the powers to produce these ideas in us, as they are in the 
snowball, I call qualities ; and as they are sensations or per- 
ceptions in our understandings, I call them ideas; which 
ideas, if I speak of sometimes as in the things themselves, I 
would be understood to mean those qualities in the object 
which produce them in us.' (Book ii. chap. viii. sec. 8.) 

18. An equivocation is not the less so because it is an* Locke » 
nounced. It is just because Locke allows himself at his to^^nff^' 
convenience to interchange the terms * idea ' and * quality ' ing ' idea 
that his doctrine is at once so plausible and so hollow. The f^^]j^ , 
essential question is whether the ^simple idea,' as the original and its ' 
of knowledge, is on the one hand a mere feeling, or on the ^«<^^- 
other a thing or quality of a thing. This question is the 
crux of empirical psychology. Adopting the one alternative, 
we have to &Lce the difficulty of the genesis of knowledge, as 
an apprehension of the real, out of mere feeling ; adopting 
the other, we virtually endow the nascent intelligence with 
the conception of substance. By playing fast and loose with 
Mdea' and 'quality,' Locke disguised the dilemma from 
himself. Here again the metaphor of Impression did him 
yeoman's service. The idea, or * immediate object of thought,' 
being confused with the affection of the sensitive organs, and 
this again being accounted for as the result of actual impact, 
it was easy to represent the idea itself as caused by the 
action of an outward body on the ' mental tablet.' Thus 
Locke speaks of the * objects of our senses obtruding their 
particular ideas on our minds, whether we will or no.' 
(Book n. chap. i. sec. 25.) This sentence holds in solution an 
assumption and two fallacies. The assumption (with which 
we have no further concern here) is the physical theory that 
matter affects the sensitive organs in the way of actunl 


impact. Of the fallacies, one is the confiision between this 
affection and the idea of which it is the occasion to the indi« 
vidual ; the other is the implication that this idea, as such, 
in its prime simplicity, recognises itself as the result of, and 
refers itself as a quality to, the matter supposed to cause 
it. This recognition and reference, it is clearly implied, are 
involved in the idea itself, not merely made by the philo- 
sopher theorising it. Otherwise the * obtrusion * would be 
described as of a property or effect, not of an idea, which 
means, it must be remembered, the object of consciousness 
just as the object of consciousness. Of the same purport is 
the statement that ^ the mind is fomished with simple ideas 
as they are found in exterior things.' (Book ii. chap, xziii. 
sec. 1.) It only requires a moment's consideration, indeed, 
to see that the beginning of consciousness cannot be a phy- 
sical theory, which, however true it may be and however 
natural it may have become to us, involves not only the com- 
plex conception of material impact, but the application of 
this to a case having no palpable likeness to it. But the 
' interrogator of consciousness ' finds in its primitive state 
just what he puts there, and thus Locke, with all his pains 
* to set his mind at a distance from itself,' involuntarily sup- 
poses it, in the first element of intelligence, to ' report ' that 
action of matter upon itself, which, as the result of a &miliar 
theory — involving not merely the conceptions of substance, 
power, and relation, but special qualifications of these — it 
reports to the educated man. 
Primaiy 19. This will appear more clearly upon an examination ot 

il^ndRiT ^^^ doctrine of * the ideas of primary and secondary qualities 
qualities of of bodies.' The distinction between them he states as follows. 
^^- The primary qualities of bodies are * the bulk, figure, number, 
situation, motion, and rest of their solid parts ; these are in 
them, whether w/B perceive them or no; and when they are 
of that size that we can discover them, we have by these aji 
idea of the thing as it is in itself.' . . • Thus ^ the ideas 
of primary qualities are resemblances of them, and their 
patterns do really exist in the bodies themselves. But the 
ideas produced in us by the secondary qualities have no re- 
semblance of them at all. There is nothing like them exists 
ing in the bodies themselves. They are in the bodies, we 
denominate from them, only a power to produce these sensa- 
tions in us ; and what is sweet, blue, or warm in idea is but 


the certain bulk, figQi*e, and motion of the insensible parts 
in the bodies themselves which we call so/ This power is 
then explained to be of two sorts : (a) ' The power that is in 
any body, by reason of its insensible primary qualities, to 
operate after a peculiar manner on any of our senses, and 
thereby produce in us the different ideas of several colours, 
sounds, smells, tastes, &c. These are usually called sensible 
qualities, (b) The power that is in any body, by reason of the 
particular constitution of its primary qualities, to make such 
a change in the bulk, figure, texture, and motion of another 
body, as to make it operate differentiy on our senses from 
what it did before. Thus the sun has a power to make wax 
white, and fire to make lead fiaid. These are usually called 
powers.' (Book ii. chap. viii. sec. 15, 23.) 

20. What we have here is a theory of the causes of simple * Simple 
ideas ; but we shall find Locke constantly representing this '^j,^ 
theory as a simple idea itself, or the simple idea as involving as inyolT- 
this theory. By this unconscious device he is enabled readily jj|5 » 

to exhibit the genesis of knowledge out of ^ simple ideas,' iu own 
but it is at the cost of converting these into * creations of the ^^■®- 
mind,' which with him are the antitheses of * facts' or 
^reality.' The process of conversion takes a different form 
as applied respectively to the ideas of primary and to those 
of secondary qualities. We propose to foDow it in the latter 
application first. 

21. The simple idea caused by a quality he calls the idea phnuM in 
of that quality. Under cover of this phrase, he not only ^'^^^^^ 
identifies the idea of a primary quality with the quality itself " '™^ * 
of which he supposes it to be a copy, but he also habitually 
regards the idea of a secondary quality as the consciousness 

of a quality of a thing^ though under warning that the quality 
as it is to consciousness is not as it is in the thing. This re- 
servation rather adds to the confusion. There are in fiEkct, ac- 
cording to Locke, as appears from his distinction between 
the ' nominal' and ^real essence,' two different things denoted 
by every common noun ; the thing as it is in itself or in 
nature, and the thing as it is for consciousness. The former 
IS the thing as constituted by a certain configuration of par- 
ticles, which is only an object for the physical philosopher, 
and never fully cognisable even by him ; ^ the latter is the 

■ Thb diitinetion is more fally tzeated below, pangnphi 88, &c 


thing as we see and hear and smell it. Now to a thing in 
this latter sense, according to Locke, such a simple idea as 
to the philosopher is one of a secondary quality (i.e.not a copy, 
but an effect, of something in a body), is already in the 
origin of knowledge referred as a quality, though without 
distinction of primary and secondary. He does not indeed 
state this in so many words. To have done so might have 
forced him to reconsider his doctrine of the mere passivity 
of the mind in respect of simple ideas. But it is implied in 
his constant use of such phrases as ^ reports of the senses,* 
* inlet through the senses ' — which have no meaning unless 
something is reported, something let in — and in the familiar 
comparison of the understanding to a * closet, wholly shut 
from- light, with only some little opening left, to let in 
external visible resemblances, or ideas, of things without.' 
(Book II. chap. xi. sec. 17.) 
FeeliDff 22. Phraseology of this kind, the standing heritage of the 

Md felt philosophy which seeks the origin of knowledge in sensation, 
fionftued. assumes that the individual sensation is from the first con- 
sciously representative ; that it is more than what it is simply 
in itself — fleeting, momentary, unnameable (because, while we 
name it, it has become another), and for the same reason un- 
knowable, the very negation of knowability ; that it shows the 
presence of something, whether this be a *body ' to which it is 
referred as a quality, or a mind of which it is a modification, 
or be ultimately reduced to the permanent conditions of its 
own possibility. This assumption for the present has merely 
to be pointed out ; its legitimacy need not be discussed. Nor 
need we now discuss the attempts that have been made since 
Locke to show that mere sensations, dumb to begin with, may 
yet become articulate upon repetition and combination; which 
in fact endow them with a faculty of inference, and suppose 
that though primarily they report nothing beyond themselves, 
they yet somehow come to do so as an explanation of their 
own recurrence. The sensational theory in Locke is still, so 
to speak, unsophisticated. It is true that, in concert with 
that ' thinking gentleman,' Mr. Molyneux, he had satisfied 
himself that what we reckon simple ideas are often really 
inferences from such ideas which by habit have become in- 
stinctive ; but his account of this habitual process presupposes 
the reference of sensation to a thing. * When we set before 
our eyes a round globe of any uniform colour, it is certain 


that the idea thereby imprinted in onr mind is of a flat circle, 
varioQslj shadowed with several degrees of light and bright- 
ness coming to our eyes. But we haying by use been accus- 
tomed to perceive what kind of appearance convex bodies 
are wont to make in us, what alterations are made in the 
reflections of light by the difference of the sensible figures of 
bodies ; the judgment presently, by an habitual custom, alters 
the appearances into their causes. So that from that which 
truly is variety of colour or shadow, collecting the figure, it 
makes it pass for a mark of figure, and frames to itself the 
perception of a convex figure, and an uniform colour.* (Book 
11. chap. ix. sec. 8.) The theory here stated involves two 
assumptions, each inconsistent with the simplicity of the 
simple idea. (a) The actual impression of the * plane 
variously coloured * is supposed to pronounce itself to be of 
something outward. Once call the sensation an impression/ 
indeed, or call it anything, and this or an analogous sub- 
stantiation of it is implied. It is only as thus reporting 
something ^ objective ' that the simple idea of the plane 
variously coloured gives anything to be corrected by the 
'perception of the kind of appearance convex bodies are 
wont to make in us,' i,e. ^ of l^e alterations made in the re- 
flections of light by the diffierence of the sensible figure of 
bodies.' This perception, indeed, as described, is already 
itself just the instinctive judgment which has to be accounted i 

for, and though this objection might be met by a better 
statement, yet no statement could serve Locke's purpose 
which did not make assumption {b) that sensations of light 
and colour — * simple ideas of secondary qualities ' — ^are in 
the very beginning of knowledge appeara/nceSy if not of convex 
bodies, yet of bodies; if not of bodies, yet of something which 
they reveal, which remains there while they pass away. 

23. The same aissumption is patent in Locke's account of mu • ■ 
the distinction between ^ real and fantastic,' ^ adequate and idea &8 
inadequate,' ideas. This distinction rests upon that between * ^*^^^^ 
the thing as archetype, and the idea as the corresponding mere sen- 
ectype. Simple ideas he holds to be necessarily * real ' and ^^^^ 
* adequate,' because necessarily answering to their archetypes. 
' Not that they are all of them images or representations of 
what does exist: • • • whiteness and coldness are no 
more in snow than pain is : • • • yet are they real ideas 
in us, whereby we distinguish the qualities th at are really in 

VOL. I. ^ ""^ 


things themselves. For these several appearances being de- 
signed to be the marks whereby we are to know and 
distinguish things which we have to do with, onr ideas do as 
well serve us to that purpose, and are as real distinguishing 
characters, whether they be only constant effects, or else 
exact resemblances of something in the things themselves.' 
^ (Book II. chap. xxz. sec. 2.) The simple idea, then, is a 
Y mark' or ^ distinguishing character,' either as a copy or as 
lan effect, of something other than itself. Only as thus 
regarded, does the distinction between real and fantastic 
possibly apply to it. So too with the distinction between 
true and false ideas. As Locke himself points out, the simple 
idea in itself is neither true nor false. It can become so only 
as ^ referred to something extraneous to it.' (Book n. chap, 
xxxii. sec. 4.) For all that, he speaks of simple ideas as 
true and necessarily true, because * being barely such per- 
ceptions as God has fitted us to receive, and given power to 
external objects to produce in us by established kws and 
ways • • . their truth consists in nothing else but in 
such appearances as are produced in us, and must be suitable 
to those powers He has placed in external objects, or else 
they could not be produced in us.' (Book ii. chap, xxxii. 
sec. 14.) Here again we are brought to the same point. 
The idea is an ' appeai*ance ' of something, necessarily trae 
when it cannot seem to be the appearance of anything else 
than that of which it is the appearance. We thus come to 
the following dilemma. Either the simple idea is referred to 
a thing, as its pattern or its cause, or it cannot be regarded 
as either real or true. If it is still objected that it need not 
be so referred in the beginning of knowledge, though it comes 
to be so in the developed intelligence, the answer is the 
further question, how can that be knowledge even in its most 
elementary phase — the phase of the reception of simple ideas 
— which is not a capacity of distinction between real and 
apparent; between true and false 9 If its beginning is a mode 
of consciousness, such as mere sensation would be — ^which, 
because excluding all reference, excludes that reference of 
itself to something else without which there could be no con« 
sciousness of a distinction between an ^ is ' and an ^ is not,' 
and therefore no true judgment at all — how can any repe- 
tition of such modes give such a judgment P ^ 

> Cf. the ground of distinction ideas; (Book n. ebap^ xziz. see. 2) 
fcetween clearness and obscurity of * Our simple ideas are clear when they 


24. The feet is that the * simple idea' with Locke, as the it iBvolves 
beginning of knowledge, is already, at its minimnm, the ^^^° 
judgment, * I have an idea diflFerent from other ideas, which mind and 
I did not make for myself.* His confusion of this judgment ai^-*'^ 
with sensation is merely the fundamental confusion, on which ffoiohed, 
all empirical psychology rests, between two essentially dis- 
tinct questions — one metaphysical. What is the simplest 
element of knowledge P the other physiological. What are 
the conditions in the individual hmnan organism in virtue of 
which it becomes a vehicle of knowledge ? Though he failed, 
however, to distinguish these questions, their difEerence 
made itself appear in a certain divergence between the second 
and fourth books of his Essay. So far we have limited 
pur consideration to passages in the second book, in which 
he treats eo nomine of ideas ; of simple ideas as the original 
of knowledge, of complex ones as formed in its process. 
Here the physical theory is predominant. The beginning of 
knowledge is that without which the animal is incapable of 
it, viz. sensation regarded as an impression through ^ animal 
spirits ' on the brain. But it can only be so represented be- 
cause sensation is identified with that which later psychology 
distinguished from it as Perception, and for which no phy 
sical theory can account. As we have seen, the whole theory 
of this (the second) book turns upon the supposition that the 
simple idea of sensation is in every case an idea of a sensible 
quality, and that it is so, not merely for us, considering it ex 
parte post^ but consciously for the individual subject, which 
can mean nothing else than that it distinguishes itself from, 
and refers itself to, a thing. Locke himself, indeed, accord- 
ing to his plan of bringing in a * faculty of the mind ' when- 
ever it is convenient, would perhaps rather have said that it 
is so distinguished and referred * by the mind.' He considers 
the simple idea not, as it truly is, the mind itself in a certain 
relation, but a datum or material of the mind, upon which it 
performs certain operations as upon something other than 
itself, though all the while it is constituted, at least in its 
actuality, by this material. Between the reference of the 
simple idea to the thing, however, by itself and * by the mind,* 

are anch as the 6bjecU themselTes, tell whether an idea is clear op not, it 

vhence they are taken, did op might in follows that immediate conedousneim 

a well-oordOTed sensation op perception, must tell of * the object itself, whence 

preaent them.' As Locke always as- the idea is taken.' 
I that immediate consciousness can 



there is no essential difference. In either case the reference 
is inconsistent with the simplicity of the simple idea ; and if 
the latter expression avoids the seeming awkwardness of 
ascribing activity to the idea, it yet ascribes it to the mind 
in that elementary stage in which, according to Locke, it is 
merely receptive. 
And is 25. So much for the theory * of ideas.' As if, however, in 

to"T^» hf treating of ideas he had been treating of anything eUe than 
afterwarda knowledge, he afterwards considers ^ knowledge ' in a book 
calls ijy itself (the fourth) under that title, and here the question 

ledge of as to the relation between idea and thing comes before him 
idefltity.* jn ^ somewhat different shape. According to his well-known 
definition, knowledge is the perception of the agreement or 
disagreement of any of our ideas. The agreement or dis- 
agreement may be of four sorts. It may be in the way (1) 
of identity, (2) of relation, (3) of co-existence, (4) of real ex- 
istence. In his account of the last sort of agreement, it may 
be remarked by the way, he departs at once and openly from 
his definition, making it an agreement, not of idea with idea, 
but of an idea with * actual real existence.* The fatal but 
connatural wound in his system, which this inconsistency 
marks, will appear more fully below. For the present, our 
concern is for the adjustment of the definition of knowledge 
to the doctrine of the simple idea as the beginning of know- 
ledge. According to the definition, it cannot be the simple 
idea, as such, that constitutes this beginning, but only the 
perception of agreement or disagreement between simple 
ideas. * There could be no room,' says Locke distinctly, *for 
any positive knowledge at all, if we could not distinguish 
any relation beween our ideas.' (Book iv. chap. i. sec. 5.) 
Yet in the very context where he makes this statement, the 
perception of relation is put as a distinct kind of know- 
ledge apart from others. In his account of the other kinds, 
however, he is faithful to his definition, and ti*eats each as a 
perception (i.e. a judgment) of a relation in the way of agree- 
ment or disagreement. The primary knowledge is that of 
identity — the knowledge of an idea as identical with itself. 
^ A man infallibly knows, as soon as ever he has them in his 
mind, that the ideas he calls white and round, are the very 
ideas they are, and not other ideas which he calls red and 
square .' (Book iv. chap. i. sec. 4.) Now, as Hume after- 
wards pointed out, identity is not simple unity. It cannot 


be predicated of the * idea ' as merely single, but only as a Only as 
manifold in singleness. To speak of an idea bls the * same ?"^ **'" 
with itself' is unmeaning unless it mean ^ same with itself in nHmed. 
Us manifold appearances-.^ i.e. unless the idea is distinguished, 
as an object existing continuously, from its present appear- 
ance. Thus * the infallible knowledge,' which Locke describes 
in the above passage, consists in this, that on the occurrence 
of a certain ^ idea ' the man recognises it as one, which at 
other times of its occurrence he has called ^white.^ Such a 
'synthesis of recognition,' however, expressed by the appli- 
cation of a common term, implies the reference of a present 
sensation to a permanent object of thought, in this case the 
object thought under the term * white,' so that the sensation 
becomes an idea of that object. Were there no such objects, 
there would be no significant names, but only noises ; and 
were the present sensation not so referred, it would not be 
named. It may be said indeed that the ^ permanent object 
of thought ' is merely the instinctive resxdt of a series of past 
resembling sensations, and that the common name is merely 
the register of tliis result. But the question is thus merely 
thrown further back. Unless the single fleeting sensation 
was, to begin with, fixed and defined by relation to and 
distinction from something permanentr~in other words, 
unless it ceased to be a mere sensation — how did it happen 
that other sensations were referred to it, as difTerent cases 
of an identical phenomenon, to which the noise suggested by 
it might be applied as a sign? 

26. This primary distinction and relation of the simple The sam* 
idea Locke implicitly acknowledges when he substitutes for ^i^f *^jj" 
the simple idea, as in the passage last quoted, the man's an idea of 
knowledge that he has the idea ; for such knowledge implies '^^ o^^ct, 
the distinction of the idea from its permanent conscious sub- 
ject, and its determination by that negative relation.* Thus 
determined, it becomes itself a permanent object, or (which 
comes to the same) an idea of an object ; a phrase which 
Locke at his convenience substitutes for the mere idea, when- 
ever it is wanted for making his theory of knowledge square 
with knowledge itself. Once become such an object, it is a 

* Of. tli« paMage in Book lu chap, tion of it as actually there/ as sensation 
rii. sec. 7- *When ideas are in our is different from thought The 'con- 
minds, we consider them as being actually sideration, &c./ really means the thought 
there.' The mere 'idea' is in fact es- of thp ' idea' (sensation) as determined 
smtiaUj different from the * considera- by relation to the conscious subject. 



made /or, 
Dot ht/, us, 
and there- 
fore ac- 
cording to 

What did 
he mean 
by this? 

basis to which other sensations, like and unlike, may be 
referred as differentiating attributes. Its identity becomes a 
definite identity. 

27. Upon analysis, then, of Locke's account of the most 
elementary knowledge, the perception of identity or agree- 
ment of an idea with itself, we find that like the * simple 
idea,' which he elsewhere makes the beginning of knowledge, 
it really means the reference of a sensation to a conception 
of a permanent object or subject,* either in such a judgment 
as *this is white' (sc. a white thing), or in the more ele- 
mentary one, * this is an object to me.' In the latter form 
the judgment represents what Locke puts as the conscious- 
ness, ^ I have an idea,' or as the ' consideration that the idea 
is actually there ; ' in the former it represents what he calls 

* the knowledge that the idea which I have in my mind and 
which I call white is the very idea it is, and not the idea 
which I call red.' It is only because referred^ as above, that 
the sensation is in Locke's phraseology *a testimony' or 

* report ' of something. As we said above, his notion of the 
beginning of knowledge is expressed not merely in the formula 
^I have an idea different from other ideas,' but with the 
addition, * which I did not make for myself.' * The simple 
idea is supposed to testify to something without that caused 
it, and it is this interpretation of it which makes it with him 
the ultimate criterion of reality. But unless it were at once 
distinguished from and referred to both a thing of which it 
is an effect and a subject of which it is an experience, it could 
not in the first place testify to anything, nor secondly to a 
thing as made for, not by, the subject. This brings us, how- 
ever, upon Locke's whole theory of *real existence,' which 
requires fuller consideration. 

28. It is a theory, we must premise, which is nowhere 
explicitly stated. It has to be gathered chiefly from those 
passages of the second book in which he treats of ^ complex ' 
or * artificial ' ideas in distinction from simple ones, which 
are necessarily real, and from the discussion in the fourth 
book of the * extent ' and * reality ' of knowledge. We have, 
however, to begin with, in the enumeration of simple ideas, a 

' For ft recognition by Locke of the 
correlativity of these (of which more 
will have to be said below) cf. Book ii. 
chap, zziii. sec. 15. 'Whilst I know 
by seeing or hearing, &c., that there is 

some corporeal being without me, the 
object of that sensation, I do more cer- 
tainly know that there is some spiritual 
being within me tliat sees and hears.' 
* Cf. Book n. chap. zii. sec. 1. 


mention of * existence/ as one of those * received alike tlirough 
all the ways of sensation and reflection.' It is an idea ^ sug- 
gested to tiie understanding by every object without and every 
idea within. When ideas are in our minds, we consider them 
as being actually there, as well as we consider things to be 
actually without us; which is, that they exist, or have 
existence.' (Book ii. chap. vii. sec. 7.) 

29. The two considerations here mentioned, of ^ ideas as 
actually in our minds,' of * things as actually without us,' are 
meant severally to represent the two ways of reflection and 
sensation, by which the idea of existence is supposed to be 
suggested. But sensation, according to Locke, is an organ 
of * ideas,' just as much as reflection. Taking his doctrine 
strictly, there are no * objects ' but * ideas ' to suggest the 
idea of existence, whether by the way of Sensation or by 
that of reflection, and no ideas that are not ' in the mind.' 
(Book n. chap. ix. sec. 3, &c.) 

80. The designation of the idea of existence, then, as EzistooM 
* suggested by every idea within,' covers every possible sug- ^^J^ p^ 
gestion. It can mean nothing else than that it is given in sence of a 
every act and mode of consciousness ; that it is inseparable ^•o^'^- 
from feeling as such, being itself at the same time a distinct 
simple idea. This, we may remark by the way, involves the 
conclusion that every idea is composite, made up of what- 
ever distinguishes it from other ideas together with the idea 
of existence. Of this idea of existence itself, however, it will 
be impossible to say anything distinctive ; for, as it accom- 
panies all possible objects of consciousness, there will be no 
cases where it is absent to be distinguished from those where 
it is present. Not merely will it be undefinable, as every 
simple idea is ; it will be impossible ^ to send a man to his 
senses ' (according to Locke's favourite subterftige) in order 
to know what it is, since it is neither given in one sense as 
distinct from another, nor in all senses as distinct from any 
other modification of consciousness. Thus regarded, to treat 
it as a simple idea alongside of other simple ideas is a pal- 
pable contradiction. It is the mere * It is felt,' the abstrac- 
tion of consciousness, no more to be reckoned as one among 
other ideas than colour in general is to be co-ordinated with 
red, white, and blue. Whether I smell a rose in the summer 
or recall the s*mell in winter ; whether I see a horse or a 
ghost, or imagine a centaur or think of gravitation or the 


philosopher's stone— in every case alike the idea or ^ imme- 
diate object of the mind ' exists. Yet we find Locke distin- 
guishing between real ideas, as those that ^ have a conformity 
with the existence of things/ and fantastic ideas, as those 
which have no snch conformity (Book ii» chap. xxx. sec. 1) ; 
and again in the fourth book (chap. i. sec. 7, chap. iii. 
sec. 21, &c.) he makes the perception of the agreement of an 
idea with existence a special kind of knowledge, different 
from that of agreement of idea with idea ; and haying done 
so, raises the question whether we have such a knowledge of 
existence at all, and decides that our knowledge of it is yery 
Exiatenee 31. How are Buch a distinction and such a question to be 
a»reabty. j^^Qn^iled with the attribution of existence to every idea? 
The answer of course will be, that when he speaks of ideas as 
not conforming to existence, and makes knowledge or the 
agreement of ideas with each other something different from 
their agreement with existence, he means and generally says 

* real actual existence,' or the * existence of things/ i.e. an 
existence, whatever it be, which is opposed to mere existence 
in consciousness. Doubtless he so means, but this implies 
that upon mere consciousness, or the simple presence of 
ideas, there has supei*vened a distinction, which has to be 
accounted for, of ideas from things which they represent on 
the one hand, and from a mind of which they are affections 
on the other. Even in the passage first quoted (Book ii. 
chap. vii. sec. 7), where existence is ascribed to every idea, 
on looking closely we find this distinction obtruding itself^ 
though without explicit acknowledgment. In the very same 
breath, so to speak, in which the idea of existence is said to 
be suggested by every idea, it is further described as being 
either of two considerations — either the consideration of an 
idea as actually in our mind, or of a thing as actually without 
us. Such considerations at once imply the supervention of 
that distinction between ^ mind ' and ^ thing,' which gives a 
wholly new meaning to * existence.' They are not, in truth, 
as Locke supposed, two separate considerations, one or other 
of which, as the case may be, is interchangeable with the 

* idea of existence.' One is correlative with the other, and 
neither is the same as simple feeling. Considered as actually 
in the mind, the feeling is distinguished from*tbe mind as an 
uffection from the subject thereof, and iust in virtue of this 


diBtinctioii is referred to a thing as the cause of the affectioo, 
or becomes representative of a thing. But for such considera- 
tion there would for us, if the doctrine of ideas means any- 
thing, be no ^ thing without us ' at all. To ' consider things 
as actually without us ' is to consider them as causes of the 
ideas in our mind, and this is to have an idea of existence 
quite different from mere consciousness. It is to have an 
idea of it which at once suggests the question whether the 
existence is real or apparent ; in other words, whether the 
thing, to which an affection of the mind is referred as its 
cause, is really its cause or no. 

32. Between these two meanings of existence — its mean- ^^^^"^ 
ing as interchangeable with simple consciousness, and its these two 
meaning as reaUty — Locke fiiled to distinguish. Just as, J^^^°fJ|;j 
haying announced * ideas ' to be the sole * materials of its con- 
knowledge,' he allows himself at his convenience to put d»*^oM m» 
^ things ' in the place of ideas ; so having identified existence sented u 
with momentary consciouness or the simple idea, he substi- «J^«^ ^ 
tutes for existence in this sense realiiyy and in consequence f^^^,^ 
finds reality given solely in the simple idea. Thus when the 
conceptions of cause or substance, or relations of any kind, 
come xmder view, since these cannot be represented as given 
in momentary consciousness, they have to be pronounced not 
to exist, and since existence is reality, to be unreal or 
'fictions of the mind.' But without these unreal relations 
there could be no knowledge, and if they are not given in 
the elements of knowledge, it is difficult to see how they are 
introduced, or to avoid the appearance of constructing 
knowledge out of the unknown. Given in the elements of 
knowledge, however, they cannot be, if these are simple ideas 
or momentary recurrences of the ^ it is felt.' But by help of 
Locke's equivocation between the two meanings of existence, 
they can be covertly introduced as the real. Existence is 
given in the simple idea, existence equals the real, therefore 
the real is given in the simple idea. But think or speak of 
the real as we will, we find that it exhibits itself as substance, 
as cause, and as related ; i.e. according to Locke as a ' com- 
plex ' or ^invented ' or * superinduced ' idea. 

83. Li the second book of his Essay, which treats of ideas, Yet reality 
he makes the grand distinction between ' the simple ideas eomplez 
which are all from things themselves, and of which the mind '^»« 
can have no more or other than what are suggested to it,' and 


made by the ' complex ideas which are the workmaDship of the mind/ 
the muML (Book n. chap, xii.) In his account of the latter there are 
some curious cross-divisions, but he finally enumerates them 
as ideas either of modes^ substances^ or relations. The charac- 
ter of these ideas he then proceeds to explain in the order 
given, one after the other, and as if each were independent 
of the rest ; though according to his own statement the idea 
of mode presupposes that of substance, and the idea of 
substance involves that of relation. ^ Modes I call such 
complex ideas, which, however compounded, contain not in 
them the supposition of subsisting by themselves, but are 
considered as dependencies on, or affections of, substances ; 
such are the ideas signified by the words ' triangle,' ^ grati- 
tude,' * murder,' Ac. Of these there are two sorts. First, 
there are some which are only variations or different combi- 
nations of the same simple idea without the mixture of any 
other — as a dozen, or score — which are nothing but the ideas 
of so many distinct units added together; and these I call 
simple modes, as being contained within the bounds of one 
simple idea. Secondly, there are others compounded of 
simple ideas of several kinds, put together to make one 
complex one ; e. g. beauty, . • • • and these I call mixed 
modesJ* (Book n. chap. xii. sees. 4, 5.) So soon as he comes 
to speak more in detail of simple modes, he falls into apparent 
contradiction with his doctrine that, as complex ideas, they 
are the mere workmanship of the mind. AU particular 
sounds and colours are simple modes of the simple ideas of 
sound and colour. (Book u. chap, xviii. sees. 3, 4.) Again, 
the ideas of figure, place, distance, as of all particular figures, 
places, and distances, are simple modes of the simple idea of 
space. (Book u. chap, xiii.) To maintain, however, that 
the ideas of space, sound, or colour in general (as simple 
ideas) were taken from things themselves, while those of 
particula/r spaces, sounds, and colours (as complex ideas) 
were 'made by the mind,' was for Locke impossible. Thus 
in the very next chapter after that in which he has opposed 
all complex ideas, those of simple modes included, as made 
by the mind to all simply ones as taken from things them- 
selves, he speaks of simple modes ' either as found in things 
existing^ or as made by the mind within itself.' (Book ii, 
chap. xiii. sec. 1.) It wa.s not for Locke to get over this con- 
fusion by denying the antithesis between that which the 


mind 'mak^' and that which it 'takes from existing things/ 
and for the present we must leave it as it stands. We must 
fnrther note that a mode being considered ' as an affection of 
a substance/ space must be to the particular spaces which 
are its simple modes, as a substance to its modifications. 
So too colour to particular colours, &c., &c. But the idea of 
a substance is a complex idea * framed by the mind.' There- 
fore the idea of space — at an j rate such an idea as we have of 
it when we think of distances, places, or figures, and when 
else do we think of it at allP — must be a complex and arti- 
ficial idea. But according to Locke the idea of space is 
emphatically a simple idea, given immediately both by sight 
and touch, concerning which if a man enquire, he ' sends 
him to his senses.' (Book ii. chap, v.) 

84. These contradictions are not avoidable blunders, due Such are 
to carelessness or want of a clear head in the individual ^^d t^T- 
writer. * The complex idea of substance ' will not be exor- tion which 
cised; the mind will show its workmanship in the very fo^^in 
elements of knowledge towards which its relation seems every ob- 
most passive — in the * existing things ' which are the condi- i^^iedgo, 
tions of its experience no less than in the individual's 
conscious reaction upon them. The interrogator of the 
individual consciousness seeks to know that consciousness, 
and just for that reason must find in it at every stage those 
formal conceptions, such as substance and cause, without 
which there can be no object of knowledge at all. He thus 
substantiates sensation, while he thinks that he merely 
observes it, and calls it a sensible thing. Sensations, thus 
unconsciously transformed, are for him the real, the actually 
existent. Whatever is not given by immediate sense, outer 
or inner, he reckons a mere 'thing of the mind.' The ideas 
of substance and relation, then, not being given by sense, 
must in his eyes be things of the mind, in distinction from 
really existent things. But speech bewrayeth him. He can- 
not state anything that he knows save in terms which imply 
that substance and relation are in the things known ; and 
hence an inevitable obtrusion of * things of the mind ' in the 
place of real existence, just where the opposition between 
them is being insisted on. Again, as a man seems to observe 
consciousness in himself and others, it has nothing that it 
has not received. It is a blank to begin with, but passive of 
that which is without, and through its passivity it becomes 



informed. If the ^ mind,' then, means this or that individnal 
consciousness, the things of the mind must be gradually de- 
veloped from an original passivity. On the other hand, let 
anyone try to know this original passive consciousness, and 
in it, as in every other known object-matter, he must find 
these things of the mind, substance and relations. K nature 
is the object, he must find them in nature ; if his own self- 
consciousness, he must find them in that consciousness. 
But while nature knows not what is in herself, self-conscious- 
ness, it would seem, ex vi termmiy does know. Therefore not 
merely substance and relation must be found in the original 
consciousness, but the knowledge, the ideas, of them. 

35. As we follow Locke's treatment of these ideas more in 
detail, we shall find the logical see-saw, here accounted for, 
appearing with scarcely a disguise. His account of the 
origin of the * complex ideas of substances ' is as follows. 
*The mind being furnished with a great number of the 
simple ideas, conveyed in by the senses, as they are found in 
exterior things, or by reflection on its own operations, takes 
notice also that a certain number of these simple ideas go 
constantly together ; which being presumed to belong to one 
thing, and words being suited to common apprehensions and 
made use of for quick despatch, are called, so imited in one 
subject, by one name ; which by inadvertency we are apt 
afterwards to talk of and consider as one simple idea, which 
indeed is a complication of many ideas together ; because, 
arS I have said, not imagining how these simple ideas can 
subsist by themselves, we accustom ourselves to suppose 
some substratum^ wherein they do subsist, and from which 
they do result ; which therefore we call substance.^ (Book 
II. chap, xxiii. sec. I.) In the controversy with Stillingfleet, 
which arose out of this chapter, Locke was constrained 
further to distinguish (as he certainly did not do in the 
original text) between the ^ ideas of distinct substances, such 
as man, horse,' and the ^ general idea of substance.' It is to 
ideas of the former sort that he must be taken to refer in the 
above passage, when he speaks of them as formed by * com- 
plication of many ideas together,' and these alone are complex 
in the strict sense. The general idea of substance on the 
other hand, which like all general ideas (according to Locke) 
is made by abstraction, means the idea of a ' substratum 
which wp accustom ourselves to suppose ' as that wherein 


the complicated ideas ^ do subsist, and from which thej do 
result.' This, however, he regards as itself one, ^the first 
and chief,' among the ideas which make up any of the ' dis- 
tinct substances.' (Book u. chap. xii. sec. 6.) Nor is he 
faithful to the distinction between the general and the complex. 
In one passage of the first letter to Stillingfleet, he distinctly 
speaks of the general idea of substance as a ' complex idea 
made up of the idea of something plus that of relation to 
qualities. '^ Notwithstanding this confusion of terms, however, 
he no doubt had before him what seemed a clear distinction 
between the ^ abstract general idea ' of substance, as such, i.e. 
of ^ something related as a support to accidents,' but which 
does not include ideas of any particular accidents, and the 
composite idea of a substance, made up of a multitude of 
simple ideas plus that of the something related to them as a 
support. We shall find each of these idesiS, according to 
Locke's statement, presupposing the other. 

86. In the passage above quoted, our aptness to consider The &b- 
a complication of simple ideas, which we notice to go con- ^^^ing " 
stantly together, as one simple idea, is accounted for as the to Locke at 
result of a presumption that they belong to one thing. This ^*g^J]^d 
presumption is again described in the words that ^ we ac- follows the 
custom ourselves to suppose some substratum, wherein they <»™pl®^ 
do subsist, and from which they do result; which therefore 
we call substance.' Here it is implied that the idea of sub- 
stance, i. e. * the general idea of something related as a sup- 
port to accidents,' is one gradually formed upon observation 
of the regular coincidence of certain simple ideas. In the 
sequel (sec. 3 of the same chapter*) we are told that such an 
idea — * an obscure and relative idea of substance in general 
— being thus made, we come to have the ideas of particular 
sorts of substances by collecting such combinations of simple 
ideas as are, by experience and observation of men's senses, 
taken notice of to exist together.' Thus a general idea of 

* Upon a Yeference to the chapter on referred to it, he opposes it to the 

'oomplez ideas' (Book n. chap. xii.)f complex idea, according to the stricter 

it wiU appear that the term is used in a Sf^nse of that term. On the other hand, 

Ktricter and a looser sense. In the when he thinks of it as * made up * of 

^ooseir sense it is not confined to com- the idea of something plus that of rela- 

^(mnd ideas, but in opposition to simple tion to qualities (as if there could be un 

ones includes those of relation and even idea of something apart from such 

' abstract general ideas.' When Locke relation), it seems to him to have two 

thinks of Uie general idea of substance elements, and therefore to be complex, 

apart fiora the 0(HnpIication of accidents ' i. xxiii. 


Bubstaiioe haying been formed by one gradnal process, ideas 
of partictdar sorts of snbstances are formed by another and 
later one. But then the very same * collection of sach com- 
binations of simple ideas as are taken notice of to exist 
together/ which (according to sec. 3) constitutes the later 
process and follows npon the formation of the general idea of 
substance, has been preyionsly described as preceding and 
conditioning that formation. It is the complication of 
simple ideas, noticed to go constantly together, that (accord- 
ing to sec. 1) leads to the ' idea of substance in general.' 
To this see-saw between the process preceding and that fol- 
lowing the formation of the idea in question must be added 
the difficulty, that Locke's account makes the general idea 
precede the particular, which is against the whole tenor of 
his doctrine of abstraction as an operation whereby ^the 
mind makes the particular ideas, receired from particular 
objects, to become general.' (Book n. chap. xi. sec. 9.) 
Reference 87. It may be said perhaps that Locke's self-contradiction 
nltureOT**^ in this regaid is more apparent than real ; that the two pro- 
God, the cesses of combining simple ideas are essentially different, 
SroncTto' J^®* because in the later process they are combined by a con- 
■Bbstaaoe. scious act of the mind as accidents of a ' something,' of 
which the general idea has been preTiously formed, whereas 
in the earlier one they are merely presented together * by 
nature,' and, ex hypothesis though they gradually suggest, do 
not carry with them any reference to a * substratum.' But 
upon this we must remark that the presentation of ideas * by 
nature ' or ^ by God,' though a mode of speech of which 
Locke in his account of the origin of knowledge freely avails 
himself, means nothing else than their relation to a ' sub- 
stratum,' if not * wherein they do subsist,' yet * from which 
they do result.' If then it is for consciousness that ideas 
are presented together by nature, they already carry with 
them that reference to a substratum which is supposed gra*' 
dually to result from their concurrence. If it is not for con- 
sciousness that they are so presented, if they do not severally 
carry with them a reference to * something,' how is it they 
come to do so in the gross ? If a single sensation of heat is 
not referred to a hot thing, why should it be so referred on 
the thousandth recurrence? Because perhaps, recurring 
constantly in the same relations, it compels the inference of 
permanent antecedents? But the ^same relations' mean 


relations to the same things, and the observation of these 
relations presupposes just that conception of the thing which 
it is sought to account for. 

88. We are estopped, however, from any such explanation But it is 
of Locke as would suggest these ulterior questions by his •^P^ifitly 
explicit statement that ^ all simple ideas, all sensible quali- stance that' 
ties, carry with them a supposition of a substratum to exist ^^^ 
in, and of a substance wherein they inhere.' The vindication them refer 
of himself against the pathetic complaint of Stillingfleet, ^»™- 
that he had * almost discarded substance out of the reason- ^ ^^ 
able part of the world,' in which tliis statement occurs, was 
certainly not needed. Already in the original text the simple 
ideas, of which the association suggests the idea of sub- 
stance, are such as ^ the mind finds in exterior things or by 
reflection on its own operations.' But to find them in an 
exterior thing is to find them in a substance, a ' something 
it knows not what,' regarded as outward, just as to find them 
by reflection on its own operations, as its own, is to find them 
in such a substance regarded as inward. The process then 
by which, according to Locke, the general idea of substance 
is arrived at, presupposes this idea just as much as the pro- 
cess, by which ideas of particular sorts of substances are got, 
presupposes it, and the distinction between the two processes, 
as he puts it, disappears. 

39. The same paralogism appears under a slightly altered In thepio- 

form when it is stated (in the first letter to Stillingfleet) that ^ J^^ 

the idea of substance as the ' general indetermined idea of are snp- 

iomeihing is by the abstraction of the mind derived from the P°*^ ^ 

ftmTO ftt 

simple ideas of sensation and reflection.' Now ^ abstraction ' complex 
with Locke means the * separation of an idea from all other ^^^ of 
ideas that accompany it in its real existence.' (Book ii. the begin- 
chap. xii. sec. 1.) It is clear then that it is impossible to ningisthe 
abstract an idea which is not there, in real existence, to be thrLX 
abstracted. Accordingly, if the ^ general idea of something ' 
is derived by abstraction frt)m simple ideas of sensation and 
reflection, it must be originally given with these ideas, or it 
would not afterwards be separated from them. Conversely 
they must carry this idea with them, and cannot be simple 
ideas at all, but compound ones, each made up of * the 
general idea of something or being/ and of an accident 
which this something supports. How then dues the general 
idea of substance or f something,' as derived^ differ from the 


idea of * something/ as given in the original ideas of sensa- 
tion and reflection from which the supposed process of ab- 
straction starts 9 What can be said of the one that cannot 
be said of the other? K the derived general idea is of 
something related to qualities, what, according to Locke, are 
the original ideas but those of qualities related to something P 
It is true that the general idea is of something, of which 
nothing farther is known, related to qualities in general, not 
to any particular qualities. But the * simple idea * in like 
manner can only be of an indeterminate quality, for in order 
to any determination of it, the idea must be put together 
with another idea, and so cease to be simple ; and the * some- 
thing,' to which it is referred, must for the same reason be a 
purely indeterminate something. If, in order to avoid con- 
cluding that Locke thus unwittingly identified the abstract 
general idea of substance with any simple idea, we say that 
the simple idea, because not abstract, is not indeterminate 
but of a real quality, defined by manifold relations, we 
fall upon the new difficulty that, if so, not only does the 
simple idea become manifoldly complex, but just such 
an ^ idea of a particular sort of substance ' as, according 
to Locke, is derived from the derived idea of substance in 
general. As an idea of a quality, it is also necessarily an 
idea of a correlative ' something ;' and if it is an idea of a 
quality in its reality, i. e. as determined by various relations, 
it must be an idea of a variously qualified something, i. e. of 
a particular substance. Then not merely the middle of the 
twofold process by which we are supposed to get at * complex 
ideas of substances ' — i. e. the abstract something ; but its 
end — i. e. the particidar something — ^tums out to be the 
same as its beginning. 
Doctrine of 40. The fact is, that in making the general idea of sub- 
fnTO^*^^'°" stance precede particular ideas of sorts of substances (as he 
fiietent Certainly however confusedly does, in the 28rd chapter of 
tri^ 0? ^'^® Second Book,' as well as by implication in his doctrine 
compies of modes, Book ii. chap. xii. sec. 4), Locke stumbled upon a 
idMs. truth which he was not aware of, and which mil not fit into 

his ordinary doctrine of general ideas : the truth that know- 
ledge is a process from the more abstract to the more con- 
crete, not the reverse, as is commonly supposed, and as 

* See abore, paragraph 36. 


Locke's definitioD of abstraction implies. Throughout his 
prolix discussion of * substance * and * essence * we find two 
opposite notions perpetually cross each other: one that 
biowledge begins with the simple idea, the other that it be^ 
gins with the real thing as particularized by manifold rela- 
tions. According to the former notion, simple ideas being 
given, void of relation, as the real, the mind of its own act 
proceeds to bring them into relation and compound them : 
according to the latter, a thing of various properties (i. e. 
relations') being given as the real, the mind proceeds to 
separate these from each other. According to the one notion 
the intellectual process, as one of complication, ends just 
where, according to the other notion, as one of abstraction, 
it began. 

41. The chief verbal equivocation, under which Locke The con 
disguises the confusion of these two notions, is to be found ^°^^^ , 
m the use of the word * particular,' which is sometimes used ^e of * 
for the mere individual having no community with anything 'paitioa 
else, sometimes for the thing qualified by relation to a 
multitude of other things. The simple idea or sensation ; 

the * something ' which the simple idea is supposed to * re- 
port,' and which Locke at his pleasure identifies with it ; the 
complex idea j and the thing as the collection of the proper- 
ties which the simple idea ^ reports,' all are merged by Locke 
under the one term ^ particulars.' As the only consistency 
in his use of the term seems to lie in its opposition to 

* generals,' we naturally turn to the passage where this 
opposition is spoken of most at large. 

42. ^ General and universal belong not to the real existence Lodke's 
of things, but are the inventions and creatures of the under- *f]^J^^ 
standing, made by it for its own use, and concern only signs, general 
irhether words or ideas. Words are general when used for id®"* 
signs of general ideas, and so are applicable indifferently to 

many particular things ; and ideas are general, when they 
are set up as the representatives of many particular things ; 
but universality belongs not to things themselves, which are 
all of them particular in their existence, even those words 
and ideas which in their signification are general. When 

* Cf. Book ii. chap, xxiii. sec. 37. of the ideas which make up our complex 

* Most of the simple ideas that make up •* idea of gold ... are nothing else but 
our eomplex ideas of substances are so many relations to other substanoes.' 
lalj powers . . . e. g. the greater part 

VOL. I. D 


therefore we quit particulars, the generals that rest are 
only creatures of our own making, their general nature 
being nothing but the capacity they are put into by the 
understanding, of signifying or representing many particu- 
lars. For the signification they have is nothing but a 
relation that by the mind of man is added to them. • • . 
The sorting of things under names is the workmanship of 
the understanding, taking occasion from the similitude it 
observes among them to make abstract general ideas, and set 
them up in the mind, with names annexed to them, as patterns 
or forms (for in that sense the word form has a very proper 
signification), to which as particular things are found to 
agree> so they come to be of that species, have that denomina- 
tion, or are put into that classis. For when we say this is a 
man, that a horse ; this justice, that cruelty, what do we 
else but rank things under different specific names, as 
agreeing to those abstract ideas, of which we have made 
those names the signs 9 And what are the essences of those 
species, set out and marked by names, but those abstract 
ideas in the mind ; which are, as it were, the bonds between 
particular things that exist, and the names they are to be 
ranked under P ' (Book in. chap. iii. sees. 11 and 13.) 
'Things 43. In the first of these remarkable passages we begin 

not gene- ^^ the familiar opposition between ideas as * the creatures 
of the mind ' and real thin^. Ideas, and the words which 
express them, may be general, but things cannot. * They 
are all of them particular in their existence.' Then the 
ideas and words themselves appear as things, and as such 
' in their existence ' can only be particular. It is only in its 
signification, i.e. in its relation to other ideas which it 
represents, that an idea, particular itself, becomes general, 
and this relation does not belong to the * existence ' of the 
idea or to the idea in itself, but ^ by the mind of man is added 
to it.' The relation being thus a fictitious addition to 
reality, 'general and universal are mere invei^tions and 
creatures of the understanding.' The next passage, in 
spite of the warning that all ideas are particular in their 
existence, still speaks of general ideas, but only as ' set up in 
the mind.' To these ' particular things existing are found 
to agree,' and the agreement is expressed in such judgments 
as ' this is a man, that a horse ; this is justice, that cruelty ; ' 
the * this ' and * that ' representing ' particular existing 


things/ ^ horse ' and ' cruelty ' abstract general ideas to 
which these are fonnd to agree. 

44. One antithesis is certainly maintained throughout Generality 
these passages — ^that between 'real existence which is ^^no^^e 
always particular, and the workmanship of the mind,' which mind. 

' invents' generality. Real existence, however, is ascribed 
(a) to things themselves, {b) to words and ideas, even 
those which become of general signification, (e) to mixed 
modes, for in the proposition *this is justice,' the *this' 
most represent a mixed mode. (Cf. ii. xii. 5.) The charac* 
teristic of the * really existent,' which distinguishes it from 
the workmanship of the mind, would seem to be mere in- 
dividuality, exclusive of all relation. The simple ' this ' and 
< that^' apart from the relation expressed in the judgment, 
being mere individuals, are really existent; and conversely, 
ideas, which in themselves have real existence, when a rela- 
tion, in virtue of which they become significant, has been 
'added to them by the mind,' become 'inventions of the 
understanding.' This consists with the express statement in 
the chapter on * relation ' (ii. xxv. 8), that it is * not con- 
tained in the existence of things, but is something extraneous 
and superinduced.' Thus generality, as a relation between 
any one of a multitude o{ single (not necessarily simple) ideas, 
e.g. single ideas of horses, and all the rest — a relation which 
belongs not to any one of them singly — is superinduced by 
the understanding upon their real, i.e. their single existence. 
Apart frx>m this relation, it would seem, or in their mere 
singleness, even ideas of mixed modes, e.g. this net of justice, 
may have real existence* 

45. The result of Locke's statement, thus examined. The remit 
clearly is that real existence belongs to the present momen- ifl» ^^^ 
tary act of consciousness, and to that alone. Ascribed as it of^eadi "^ 
is to the ' thing itself,' to the idea which, us generaly has it not, momert » 
and to the mixed mode, it is in each case the momentary *^®"®'**^ 
presence to consciousness that constitutes it. To a thing 

itself, as distinct from the presentation to consciousness, it 
cannot belong, for such a ' thing ' means that which remains 
identical with itself under manifold appearances, and both 
identity and appearance imply relation, i.e. ' an invention of 
the mind.' A^s little can it belong to the content of any idea, 
since this is in all cases constituted by relation to other 
ideas. Thus if I judge * this is sweet,' the real exisi^nce lies 



in the simple ^ this/ in the mere form of presentation at an 
individual now, not in the relation of this to other flavoars 
which constitutes the determinate sweetness, or to a sweet- 
ness at other times tasted. If I judge ' this is a horse,' a 
present vision really exists, but not so its relation to other 
sensations of sight or touch, closely precedent or sequent, 
which make up the ' total impression ;' much less its relation 
to other like impressions thought of, in consideration of 
which a common name is applied to it. If, again, I judge 

* this is an act of justice,' the present thought of the act, 
as present, really exists ; not so those relations of the act 
which either make it just, or make me apply the name to it. 
It is true that according to this doctrine the ' really existent ' 
is the unmeaning, and that any statement about it is im- 
possible. We cannot judge of it without bringing it into 
relation, in which it ceases to be what in its mere singleness 
it is, and thus loses its reality, overlaid by the * invention of 
the understanding.' Nay, if we say that it is the mere 

* this ' or * that,' as such — the simple * here ' and * now ' — 
the very * this,' in being mentioned or judged of, becomes 
related to other things which we have called * this,' and ihe 

* now ' to other * nows.' Thus each acquires a generality, 
and with it becomes fictitious. As Plato long ago taught— 
though the lesson seems to require to be taught anew to 
each generation of philosophers — a consistent sensationalism 
must be speechless. Locke, himself, in one of the passages 
quoted, implicity admits this by indicating that only through 
relations or in tiieir generality are ideas * significant.* 

How 46. He was not the man, however, to becom.e speechless 

^^f out of sheer consistency. He has a redundancy of terms 
result. a^d tropes for disguising from himself and his reader the 
real import of his doctrine. In the latter part of the 
passage quoted we find that the relation or community 
between ideas, which the understanding invents, is occa- 
sioned by a * similitude which it observes among things.* 
The general idea having been thus invented, 'things are 
found to agree with it ' — as is natural since they suggested it. 
Hereupon we are forced to ask how, if all relation is super- 
induced upon real existence by the understanding, an observed 
relation of similitude among things can occasion the superin- 
duction ; and again how it happens, if all generality of ideas 
is a fiction of the mind, that * things are found to agree with 


general ideas.' How can the real existence called Hhis ' or 
^ that,' which only really exists so far as nothing can he 
said of it but that it is * this ' or * that/ agree with anything 
whatever? Agreement implies some content, some deter- 
mination by properties, i.e. by relations, iij the things 
agreeing, whereas the really existent excludes relation. How 
then can it agree with the abstract general idea, the import 
of which, according to Locke's own showing, depends solely 
on relation? 

47. Such questions did not occur to Locke, because w)iile The * pur- 
ajaserting the mere individuality of things existent, q,nd the ^*^^*'.'. 
simplicity of all ideas as given, i.e. as real, he never ^lly the indi- 
recognised the meaning of his own assertioi^. Under the ^^^ , 
shelter of the ambiguous * particular ' he could at any time by gendered 
substitute for the mere individual the determinate individual, wlationa. 
or individual qualified by community with other things ; just 
as, again, under covering of the ' simple idea ' he could sub 
stitute for the mere momentary consciousness the perception 
of a definite thing. Thus when he speaks of the judgment 
* this is gold ' as expressing the agreement of a real (i.e. in- 
dividual) thing with a general idea, he thinks of ' this ' as 
already having, apart from the judgment, the determination 
which it first receives in the judgment. He thinks of it, 
in other words, not as the mere ' perishing ' sensation ' or 
individual void of relation, but as a sensation symbolical of 
other possibilities of sensation which, as so many relations of 
a thing to us or to other things, are connoted by th^ 
common noun ' gold.' It thus ^ agrees ' with the abstract 
idea or conception of qualities, i.e. because it is already the 
^creature of the understanding,' determined by relation^ 
which constitute a generality and community between it and 
other things. Such a notion of the really existent thing-^ 
wholly inconsibtent with his doctrine of relation and of the 
general — ^Loeke has before him when he speaks of general 
ideas as formed by abstraction of certain qualities from real 
things, or of certain ideas from other ideas that accompany 
them in real existence. *When some one first lit on a 
parcel of that sort of substance we denote by the word goldy 
... its peculiar colour, perhaps, and weight were the first 
he abstracted from it, to make the complex idea of that species 
. . . another perhaps added to these the ideas of fusibility 
* ' AU impressions are perishing existences.' — Huhb. See below, paragraph 209. 


and fixedness . . . another its dactility and solubility in 
aqua regia. These, or part of these, put together, usually 
make the complex idea in men's minds of that sort of body 
we call gold.^ (Book ii. chap. xxxi. sec. 9.) Here the supposi- 
tion is that a thing, multitudinously qualified, is given apart 
from any a43tion of the understanding, which then proceeds 
to act in the way of successively detaching (' abstracting ') 
these qualities and recombining them as the idea of a species. 
Such a recombination, indeed, would seem but wasted 
labour. The qualities are assumed to be ah^ady found by 
the understanding and found as in a thing ; otherwise the 
understanding could not abstract them from it. Whj 
should it then painfully put together in imperfect combina- 
tion what has been previously given to it complete ? Of the 
complex idea which results from the work of abstraction, 
nothing can be said but a small part of what is predicable 
of the known thing which the possibility of such abstrac- 
tion presupposes, 
rhisis 48* ^The complex idea of a species,' spoken of in the 

jj? ^^ passage last quoted, corresponds to what, in Locke's theory 
whidi ab^ of subfitancc, is called the * idea of a particular sort of sub- 
Btraction stance.' Jn considering that theory we saw that, according 
|K)B©Tto to his account, the beginning of the process by which the 
start. ^abstract idea of substance' was forn^ed, was either that 

abstract idea itself, the mere ' something,' or by a double 
contradiction the * complex idea of a particular sort of sub- 
stance ' which yet we only come to have after the abstract 
idea has been formed, la the passage now before us there 
is no direct mention of the abstraction of the ^ substratum,' 
^8 such, but only of the quality, and hence there is no 
ambiguity about the paralogism. It is not a mere * some- 
thing ' that the man ^ lights upon,' and thus it is not this 
that holds the place at once of the given and the derived, 
but a something having manifold qualities to be abstracted* 
In other words, it is the * idea of a particular sort of sub- 
stance ' that he starts from, and it is just this again to which 
as a ^ complex idea of a species,' his understanding is sup- 
posed gradually to lead him. The understanding, indeed, 
according to Locke, is never adequate to nature, and 
accordingly the qualities abstracted and recombined in the 
complex idea always fall vastly short of the fulness of those 


giyen in the real thing ; or as he states it in terms of the 
multiplication table (Book ii. chap. xxzi. sec. 10), ' some who 
have examined this species more accqratelj could, I believe, 
enumerate ten times as many properties in gold, all of them 
as inseparable from its internal constitution, as its colour or 
weight; and it is probable if any one knew all the properties 
that are by divers men knovm of this metal, there would an 
hundred times as many ideas go to the comple]( idea of gold, 
as any one man has yet in his ; and yet perhaps that would 
not be the thousandth part of what is to be discovered in it.' 
These two million properties, and upwards, which await ab* 
straction in gold, are all, it must be noted, according to 
Locke's statement elsewhere (Book ii. chap zxiii. sec. 87), 
< nothing but so many relations to other substances.' It is 
just on account of these multitudinous relations of the real 
thing that the understanding is inadequate to its compre- 
hension. Yet according to Locke's doctrine of relation 
these must all be themselves ' superinductions of the mind,' 
and the greater the fulness which they constitute, the farther 
is the distance from the mere individuality which elsewhere^ 
in contrast with the fictitiousness of ' generals,' appears as 
the equivalent of real existence. 

49. The real thing and the creation of the understanding yet, ac- 
fhus change places. That which is given to the understand- cording to 
ing as the real, which it finds and does not make, is not now ^^^^ ^f 
the bare atom upon which relations have to be artificially relation, 
superinduced. Nor is it the mere present feeling, which has ti^^f 
* by the mind of man ' to be made ' significant,' or represen- thought. 
tative of past experience. It is itself an inexhaustible com- 
plex of relations, whether they are considered as subsisting 
between it and other things, or between the sensations which 
it is * fitted to produce in us.' These are the real, which is 
thus a system, a community ; and if the * general,' as Locke 
says, is that which * has the capacity of representing many 
particulars,' the real thing itself is general, for it represents 
— nay, is constituted by — ^the manifold particular feelings 
which, mediately or immediately, it excites in us. On the 
other hand, the invention of the understanding, instead of 
giving * significance ' or content to the mere individuality of 
the real, as it does according to Locke's theory of * generals,' 
now appears as detaching fragments from the frilness of the 



of the 


real to recombine them in an ^ abstract essence ' el its own.. 
Instead of adding complexity to the simple, it subtracts from 
the complex. 

50. To gather np, then, the lines of contradiction which 
traverse Locke's doctrine of real existence as it appears 
in his account of general and complex ideas : — The idea 
of substance is an abstract general idea, not given di- 
rectly in sensation or reflection, but * invented by the un- 
derstanding,' as by consequence must be ideas of particular 
sorts of substances which presuppose the abstract idea. On 
the other hand, the ideas of sensation and reflection, from 
which the idea of substance is abstracted, and to which as 
real it as an inveftdixm is opposed, are ideas of ^ something,' 
and are only real as representative of something. But this 
idea of something ss the idea of substance. Therefore the 
idea of substance is the presupposition, and the condition 
of the reality, of the very ideas from which it is said to be 
derived. Again, if the general idea of substance is got by 
abstraction, it must be originally given in conjunction with 
the ideas of seusation or reflection from which it is afterwards 
abstracted, i.e. sepa^ted. But in such conjunction it con- 
stitutes the ideas of particular dorts of substances. There- 
fore these latter ideas, which jet we ^ come to have ' after 
the general idea of substance, form the prior experience from 
which this general idea is abstracted. Further, this original 
experience, from which abstraction starts, being of * sorts of 
substances,' and these sorts being constituted by relations, it 
follows that relation is given in the original experience. 
But that which is so given is ^ real existence ' in opposition 
to the invention of the understanding. Therefore these 
relations, and the community which they constitute, reallj 
exist. On the other hand, mere individuals alone reallj 
exist, while relations between them are superinduced by the 
mind. Once more, the simple idea given in sensation or 
reflection, as it is made /or not hif us, has or results from real 
existence, whereas general and complex ideas are the work- 
manship of the mind. But this workmanship consists in the 
abstraction of ideas from each other, and from that to which 
thej are related as qualities. It thus presupposes at once 
the general idea of ' something ' or substance, and the com- 
plex idea of qualities of the something. Therefore it must 
be general and complex ideas that are real« as made for and 


ABSTRACT AND CX)lfftSS^^^KftSr 41 

not by us, and that afford the inventive understanding its 
material. Yet if so— if they are given — why make them 
over again by abstraction and recomplication ? 

51. We may get over the last difficulty, indeed, by dis- They can- 
tinfiruishin&r between the complex and confused, between ^^^ 
abstraction and analysis. We may say that what is onginally without 
given in experience is the confused, which to us is simple, or JJ^j^^^g 
in other words has no definite content, because, till it has fonda- 
been analysed, nothing can be said of it, though in itself it mental 
is infin^^ly complex; that thus the process, which Locke ^^^ ^* 

(yTM^Sfj ciJls abstraction, and which, as he describes it, 
consists merely in taking grains from the big heap that is 
given in order to make a little heap of one's own, is yet, 
rightly understood, the true process of knowledge — a process 
which may be said at once to begin with the complex and to 
end with it, to take from the concrete and to constitute it, 
because it begins with that which is in itself the fulness of 
reality, but which only becomes so for us as it is gradually 
spelt out by our analysis. To put the case thus, however, 
is not to correct Locke's statement, but wholly to change his 
doctrine. It renders futile his easy method of ' sending a 
man to his senses ' for the discovery of reality, and destroys 
the supposition that the elements of knowledge can be 
ascertained by the interrogation of the individual conscious- 
"ness. Such consciousness can tell nothing of its own 
beginning, if of this beginning, as of the purely indefinite, 
nothing can be said ; if it only becomes defined through 
relations, which in its state of primitive potentiality are not 
.actually in it. The senses again, so far from being, in that 
mere passivity which Locke ascribes to them, organs of 
ready-made reality, can have nothing to tell, if it is only 
through the active processes of * discerning, comparing, and 
compounding,' that they acquire a definite content. But to 
admit this is nothing else than, in order to avoid a contra- 
diction of which Locke was not aware, to efface just that 
characteristic of his doctrine which commends it to ' common 
sense ' — the supposition, namely, that the simple datum of 
sense, as it is for sense or in its mere individuality, is the 
real, in opposition to the 'invention of the mind.' That 
this supposition is to make the real the unmeaning, the 
empty, of which nothing can be said, he did not see because, 
under an unconscious delusion of words, even while asserting 


thai the names of simple ideas are nndefinable (Book ht. 
chap. iv. sec. 4), which means that nothing can be said of 
such ideas, and while admitting that the processes of dis- 
cerning, comparing, and compounding ideas, which mean 
nothing else than the bringing them into relation* or the 
superinduction upon them of fictions of the mind, are 
necessary to constitute even the beginnings of knowledge, be 
yet allows himself to invest the simple idea, as the real, with 
those definite qualities which can only accrue to it, according 
to his showing, from the * inventive ' action of the under- 
As real 62. Thus invested, it is already substance or symbolical of 
Se^Bimmie ^ubstanco, not a mere feeling but a felt thing, recognised 
idea car- either Under that minimum of qualification which enables us 
^iarmtbd* merely to say that it is * something,* or (in Locke's language) 
relation of abstract substance, or under the greater complication of 
^'**®' qualities which constitutes a * particular sort of substance' — 
gold, horse, water, &c. Beal existence thus means substance. 
It is not the simple idea or sensation by itself that is real, 
but this idea as caused by a thing. It is the thing that is 
primarily the real ; the idea only secondarily so, because it 
results from a power in the thing. As we have seen, Locke's 
doctrine of the necessary adequacy, reality, and truth of the 
simple idea turns upon the supposition that it is, and an- 
nounces itself as, an * ectype ' of an * archetype.' But there 
is not a different archetype to each sensation ; if there were, 
in * reporting ' it the sensation would do no more than report 
itself. It is the supposed single cause of manifold different 
sensations or simple ideas, to which a single name is applied. 
* K sugar produce in us the ideas which we call whiteness 
and sweetness, we are sure there is a power in sugar to 
produce those ideas in our minds And so each sensa- 
tion answering the power that operates on any of our senses, 
the idea so produced is a real idea (and not a fiction of the 
mind, which has no power to produce any single idea), and 

1 Locke only states this explicitly of which means that they are brought into 

comparison, *an operation of the mind relation as constituents of a whole, 

about its ideas, upon which depends all That these three processes are neces- 

that larffe tribe of ideas, comprehended saiy to constitute the beginnings of 

under relation/ (Book n. chap. xi. sec. knowledge, according to Locke, appears 

4.) It is clear, howeyer, that the same from Book u. chap. zi. sec. 15, t^tken in 

remark must appl^ to the * discernment connection with what precedes in that 

of ideas,' which is strictly correlative chapter. 
to ocmparison, and to their composition, 


cannot bot be adequate • • . • and so all simple ideas are 
adequate/ (Book u. chap. xxxi. sec. 2.) The sugar, which 
is here the ' archetype ' and the source of reality in the idea, 
is just what Locke elsewhere calls ^a particular sort of 
substance/ as the ' something * from which a certain set of 
sensations result, and in which, as sensible qualities, they 
inhere. Strictly speaking, however, according to Locke, that 
which inheres in the thing is not the quality, as it is to us, 
but a power to produce it. (Book n. chap. vui. sec. 23, and 
c. xxiii. 87.) 

68. In calling a sensation or idea the product of a power, CorreU- 
substance is presupposed just as much as in calling it a ^^Jand 
sensible quality ; only that with Locke * quality * conveyed Bubetanca. 
the notion of inherence in the substance, power that of 
relation to an effect not in the substance itself. ' Secondary 
qualities are nothing but the powers which mbstances have to 
produce several ideas in us by our senses, which ideas are 
not in the things themselves, otherwise than as anything is 
in its cause.' (Book n. chap, xxiii. sec. 9.) ^ Most of the 
simple ideas, that make up our complex ideas of substances, 
are only powers .... or relations to other substances (or, 
as he explains elsewhere, * relations to our perceptions,' *), and 
are not really in the substance considered barely in itself.' 
(Book u. chap, xxiii. sec. 87, and xxxi. 8.) That this implies 
the inclusion of the idea of cause in that of substance, appears 
from Locke's statement that ^ whatever is considered by us 
to operate to the producing any particular simple idea which 
did not before exist, hath thereby in our minds the relation 
of a cause.' (Book ii. chap. xxvi. sec. 1.) Thus to be con- 
scious of the reality of a simple idea, as that which is not 
made by the subject of the idea, but results from a power in 
a thing, is to have the idea of substance as cause. This 
latter idea must be the condition of the consciousness of 
reality. Kthe consciousness of reality is implied in the be- 
ginning of knowledge, so ipust the correlative ideas be of 
canse and substance. 

64. On examining I^ocke's second rehearsal of his theory flow do w« 
in the fonrth book of the Essay— that * On Knowledge '— J^^^ J^*^ 
we are led to this result quite as inevitably as in the book lespond tx) 
* On Ideas.' He lias a special chapter on the * reality of ^^^^^^ 
human knowledge,' where he puts the problem thus : — * It is 

' Book Ti. chap. xxi. sec. S. 


liocke's evident the mind knows not things immediately, bnt only by 
miBwer. ^^ intervention of the ideas it has of them. Our knowledge 
therefore is real only so far as there is a conformity between 
onr ideas and the reality of things. But what shall be here 
the criterion P How shall the mind, when it perceives no- 
thing but its own ideas, know that they agree with things 
themselves P ' (Book iv. chap. iv. sec. 3.) It knows this, he 
proceeds to show, in the case of simple ideas, because ^ since 
the mind can by no means make them to itself, they must be 
the product of things operating on the mind in a natural 

way Simple ideas are not fictions of our fancies, but 

the natural and regular productions of things without us, 
really operating upon us ; and so carry with them all the 
conformity which is intended, or which our state requires, 
for they represent to us things under those appearances 
which tiiey are fitted to produce in us ; whereby we are en- 
abled to distinguish the sorts of particular substances,' &c. 
&c. (Book IV. chap. iv. sec. 4.) The whole force of this 
passage depends on the notion that simple ideas are already 
to the subject of them not his own making, but the product 
of a thing, which in its relation to these ideas is a ^ particular 
sort of substance.' It is the reception of such ideas, so 
related, that Locke calls ^ sensitive knowledge of particular 
existence,' or a * perception of the mind, employed about the 
particular existence of finite beings without us.' (Book iv. 
chap. iL sec. 14.) This, however, he distinguishes from two 
other * degrees of knowledge or certainty,' * intuition ' and 

* demonstration,' of which the former is attained when the 
agreement or disagreement of two ideas is perceived immedi- 
ately, the latter when it is perceived mediately through the 
intervention of certain other agreements or disagreements 
(less or more), each of which must in turn be perceived 
immediately. Demonstration, being thus really but a series 
of intuitions, carries the same certainty as intuition, only it 
is a certainty which it requires more or less pains and atten- 
tion to apprehend. (Book iv. chap. ii. sec. 4.) Of the 

* other perception of the mind, employed about the particular 
existence of finite beings without us,' which * passes under 
the name of knowledge,' he explains that although ' going 
beyond bare probability, it reaches not perfectly to either of 
the foregoing degrees of certainty.' * There can be nothing 
more certain,' he proceeds, * than that the idea we receive 


from an external object is in our minds ; this is intnitiye 
knowledge. But whether there be anything more than barelj 
that idea in our minds, whether we can thence certainly infer 
the existence of anything without us which corresponds to 
that idea, is that whereof some men think there may be a 
question made ; because men may have such ideas in their 
minds, when no such thing exists, no such object a£Pects 
their senses.' (Book rv. chap. ii. sec. 14.) 

55. It is clear that here in his yery statement of the ques- It nflsiimes 
tion Locke begs the answer. If the intuitive certainty is ^^ J^' 
that * the idea we receive from cm external object is in our are con- 
mindB,'' how is it possible to doubt whether such an object ^^^^ 
exists and affects our senses ? This impossibility of speaking things that 
of the simple idea, except as received from an object, may ^^ 
account for Locke's apparent inconsistency in finding the 
assurance of the reality of knowledge (under the phrase 

* evidence of the senses *) just in that * perception ' which 
reaches not to intuitive or demonstrative certainty, and only 

* passes under the name of knowledge.' In the passage just 
quoted he shows that he is cognizant of the distinction be- 
tween the simple idea and the perception of an existence 
corresponding to it, and in consequence distinguishes this 
perception from proper intuition, but in the very statement 
of the distinction it eludes him. The simple idea, as he 
speaks of it, becomes itself, as consciously * received from an 
external object,' the perception of existence ; just as we have 
previously seen it become the judgment of identity or per- 
ception of the ' agreement of an idea with itself,' which is his 
firat kind of knowledge. 

56. In short, with Locke tiie simple idea, the perception Livelj 
of existence corresponding to the idea, and the judgment of J^®" '^ 
identity, are absolutely merged, and in mutual involution, they must 
sometimes under one designation, sometimes under another, ^ ®^<** 
are alike presented as the beginning of knowledge. As occa- ^ '*^' 
sion requires, each does duty for the other. Thus, if the 

* reality of knowledge ' be in question, the simple idea, which 
is given, \a treated as involving the perception of existence, 
and the reality is established. If in turn this perception is 
distinguished from the simple idea, and it is asked whether 

■ I do not now raise the question, * intnitiye certainty ' or knowledge a«- 

What are here the ideas, which mnst be cording to Locke's definition. See 

hnmediatelj perceived to agree or dis- below, paragraphs 59, 1(M, and 147. , 

tgree in order to make it a case of 


the correspondence between idea and existence is properly 
matter of knowledge, the simple idea has only to be treated 
as involying the judgment of identity, which again involves 
that of existence, and the question is answered. So in the 
context under consideration (Book iv. chap. ii. sec. 14), after 
raising the question «xs to the existence of a thing corres- 
ponding to the idea, he answers it by the counter question, 
* whether anyone is not invincibly conscious to himself of a 
different perception, when he looks on the sun by day, and 
thinks on it by night ; when he actually tastes wormwood, 
or smells a rose, or only thinks on that savour or odour ? 
We as plainly find the difference there is between any idea 
revived in our minds by our own memory, and actually com- 
ing into our minds by our senses, as wo do between any two 
distinct ideas.' The force of the above lies in its appeal to 
the perception of identity, or — ^to apply the language in 
which Locke describes this perception — the knowledge that 
the idea which a man calls the smell of a rose is the very 
idea it is.* The mere difference in liveliness between the 
present and the recalled idea, which, as Berkeley and Hume 
rightly maintained, is the only difference between them as 
mere ideas, cannot by itself constitute the difference between 
the knowledge of the presence of a thing answering to the 
idea and the knowledge of its absence. It can only do this 
if the more lively idea is identified with past lively ideas as 
a representation of one and the same thing which ^ agrees 
with itself* in contrast to the multiplicity of the sensations, 
its signs. Only in virtue of this identification can either the 
liveliness of the idea show that the thing— the sun or the 
rose — is there, or the want of liveliness that it is not, for 
without it there would be no thing to be there or not to be 
there. It is because this identification is what Locke under- 
stands by the first sort of perception of agreement between 
ideas, and because he virtually finds this perception again in 
the simple idea, that the simple idea is to him the index of 
reality. But if so, the idea in its primitive simplicity is the 
sign of a thing that is ever the same in the same relations, 
and we find the * workmanship of the mind,* its inventions 
of substance, cause, and relation, in the very rudiments of 
Present 57. With that curious tendency to reduplication, which is 

' See above, paragraph 25. 



one of his characteristics, Locke, after devoting a chapter tt> ?*^^.^^ 
the * reaHtj of human knowledge,' of which the salient pas- of ezist- 
sage as to simple ideas has been already quoted, has another ^^^' 
apon our ' knowledge of existence.' Here again it is the 
sensitive knowledge of things actually present to our senses, 
which with him is merely a synonym for the simple idea, 
that is the prime criterion. (Book iv. chap. iii. sees. 5 and 2, 
and chap. ii. sec. 2.) After speaking of the knowledge of 
our own being and of the existence of a God (about which 
more will be said below), he proceeds, * No particular man 
can know the existence of any other being, but only when, 
by actually operating upon him, it makes itself perceived by 
him. For the having the idea of anything in our mind no 
more proves the existence of that thing, than the picture of 
a man evidences his being in the world, or the visions of a 
dream make thereby a true history. It is therefore the 
actual receiving of ideas from without, that gives us notice 
of the existence of other things, and makes us know that 
something doth exist at that time without us, which causes 
that idea in us, though perhaps we neither know nor consider 
how it does it ; for it takes not from the certainty of our 
senses and the ideas we receive by them, that we know not 
the manner wherein they are produced ; e. g. whilst I write 
this, I have, by the paper affecting my eyes, that idea pro- 
duced in my mind, which, whatever object causes, I call 
white ; by which I know that the quality or accident (i. e. 
whose appearance before my eyes always causes that idea) 
doth really exist, and hath a being without me. And of this 
the greatest assurance I can possibly have, and to which my 
faculties can attain, is the testimony of my eyes, which are 
the proper and sole judges of this thing, whose testimony I 
haye reason to rely on, as so certain, that I can no more 
doubt whilst I write this, that I see white and black, and 
that something really exists that causes that sensation in me, 
than that I write and move my hand.' (Book iv. chap. xi. 
sees. 1, 2.) 

58. Seasons are afterwards given for the assurance that B^asons 
the * perceptions' in question are produced in us by * exterior 7^y ^^ 

rt. j« • r«i /» . / \ . .1 J r .1 testimony 

causes anectmg our senses. The nrst (a) is, that ^ those most be 
that want the organs of any sense never can have the ideas ^^msted. 
belonging to that sense produced in their mind.' The next 
(b), that whereas *if I turn my eyes at noon toward the sun. 


I cannot avoid the Meas which the light or the sun then pro- 
4lace8 in me ;' on the other hand, * when my eyes are shut or 
windows fast, as I can at pleasure recall to my mixid the ideas 
of light or the sun, which former sensations had lodged in 
my memory, so I can at pleasure lay them by.* Again (c), 
' many of those ideas are produced in us with pain which 
afterwards we remember without the least o£Eence. Thus 
the pain of heat or cold, when the idea of it is revived in 
our minds, gives us no disturbance ; which, when felt, was 
very troublesome, and is again, when actually repeated; 
which is occasioned by the disorder the external object 
causes in our body, when applied to it.* Finally (d), * our 
senses in many cases bear witness to the truth of each other's 
report, concerning the existence of sensible things without 
us. He that sees a fire may, if he doubt whether it be any- 
thing more than a bare fancy, feel it too.' Then comes the 
conclusion, dangerously qualified : * When our senses do 
actually convey into our understandings any idea, we can- 
not but be satisfied that there doth something at that time 
really exist without us, which doth affect our senses, and by 
them give notice of itself to our apprehensive faculties, and 
actually produce that idea which we then perceive ; and we 
cannot so far distrust their testimony as to doubt that such 
collections of simple ideas, as we have observed by our senses 
to be united together, actually exist together. But this 
knowledge extends as far as the present testimony of our 
senses, employed about particular objects, that do then affect 
them, and no further. For if I saw such a collection of 
simple ideas as is wont to be called man, existing together 
one minute since, and am now alone ; I cannot be' certain 
that the same man exists now, since there is no necessary 
connexion of his existence a minute since with his existence 
now. By a thousand ways he may cease to be, since I had 
the testimony of my senses for his existence.* (Book rv. 
chap. xi. sec. 9.) 
How does ^^' ^V^^ *t® * knowledge of the existence of things,* thus 
this ac- established, it has to be remarked in the first place that, 
^ko'g^ after all, according to Locke*s explicit statement, it is not 
dcfiniiion properly knowledge. It is * an assurance that deserves the 
w]^°^" name of knowledge * (Book iv. chap. ii. sec. 14, and xi. sec. 3), 
yet being neither itself an intuition of agreement between 
ideas, nor resoluble into a series of such intuitions, the de- 


finiidon of knowledge ezclades it. Only if existence were 
itself an ^ idea/ would the consciousness of the agreement 
of the idea with it be a case of knowledge ; but to make 
existence an idea is to make the whole question about the 
agreement of ideas, as such, with existence, as such, unmean- 
ing. To seek escape from this dilemma by calling the con- 
sciousness of the agreement in question an * assurance * 
instead of knowledge is a mere verbal subterfuge. There 
can be no assurance of agreement between an idea and that 
which is no object of consciousness at all. If, however, 
existence is an object of consciousness, it can, according to 
Locke, be nothing but an idea, and the question as to the 
asmrance of agreement is no less unmeaning than the ques- 
tion as to the knowledge of it. The raising of the question 
in fact, as Locke puts it, implies the impossibility of answer- 
ing it. It cannot be raised with, any significance, unless 
existence is external to and other than an idea. It cannot 
be answered unless existence is, or is given in, an object of 
consciousness, i. e. an idea. 

60. As usual, Locke disguises this diflSculty from himself, LocIm'b m- 
because in answering the question he alters it. The question, ^e^tLti- 
as he aska ity is whether, given the idea, we can have posterior mony of 
assurance of something else corresponding to it. The ques- ^q^„ ^ii 
tion, as he anewera ity is whether the idea includes the con- question 
sciousness of a real thing as a constituent ; and the answer ^J^!^ 
consists in the simple assertion, variously repeated, that it saper- 
does. It is clear, however, that this answer to the latter fi^'** 
question does not answer, but renders unmeaning, the ques- 
tion as it is originally asked. If, according to Locke's own 
showing, there is nowhere for anything to be found by us but 
in our * ideas ' or our consciousness — if the thing is given in 
and with the idea, so that the idea is merely the thing ex 
parte nastrd — ^then to ask if the idea agrees with the thing is 
as futile as to ask* whether hearing agrees with sound, or the 
voice with the words it utters. That the thing is so given is 
implied throughout Locke's statement of the * assurance we 
have of the existence of material beings,' as well as of the 
confirmations of this assurance. If the * idea which I call 
white ' means the knowledge that * the property or accident 
(i. e. whose appearance before my eyes always causes that 
idea) doth reaJly exist and hath a being without me,' then 
consciousness of existence — outward, permanent, subsi^ntive, 

VOIi. I. s 



tions of the 
turn upon 
the dis- 
* impres- 
sion and 

They de- 

Eind on 
which pre- 
the as- 
cription of 
to an out- 

and causatiye existence — is involved in the idea, and no nl« 
tenor question of agreement between idea and existence can 
properly arise. But unless the simple idea is so interpreted, 
the senses have no testimony te give. If it is so interpreted, 
no extraneous * reason te rely upon the testimony ' can be 
discovered, for such reason can only be a repetition of the 
testimony itself. 

61. This becomes clearer upon a view of the confirmations 
of the testimony, as Locke gives them. They all, we may 
remark by the way, presuppose a distinction between the 
simple idea as originally represented and the same as recalled 
or revived. This distinction, fixed by the verbal one between 
^ impression ' and ^ idea,' we shall find constantly maintained 
and all-important in Hume's system ; but in Locke, though 
upon it (as we shall see) rests his distinction between real 
and nominal essence and his confinement of general know- 
ledge to the latter, it seems only te turn up as an afterthought. 
In the account of the reality and adequacy of ideas it doe* 
not appear at all. There the distinction is merely between 
the simple idea, as such, and the complex, as such, without 
any further discrimination of the simple idea as originally 
produced from the same as recalled. So, too, in the opening 
account of the reception of simple ideas (Book ii. chap. xii. 
sec. 1), * Perception,' * Retention,' and * Discerning' are all 
reckoned together as alike forms of the passivity of the mind, 
in contrast with its activity in combination and abstraction, 
though retention and discerning have been previously de- 
scribed in terms which imply activity. In the * confirmations' 
before us, however, the distinction between the originally 
produced and the revived is essential. 

62. The first turns upon the impossibility of producing an 
idea de novo without the action of sensitive organs ; the two 
next upon the difference between the idea as produced through 
these organs and the like idea as revived *at the will of the 
individual. It is hence inferred that the idea as originally 
produced is the work of a thing, which must exist in renum 
naturdf and by way of a fourth * confirmation ' the man who 
doubts this in the case of one sensation is invited to try it in 
another. If, on seeing a fire, he thinks it * bare fancy,' i. e. 
doubts whether his idea is caused by a thing, let him put his 
hand into it. This last * confirmation ' need not be further 
noticed here, since the operation of ^ producing thing is ap 


oertaiii or as doubtful for one sensation as for another.^ Two 
certainties are not more sure than one^ nor can two doubts 
make a certainty. The other * confirmations ' alike lie in the 
words * product * and * organ/ A man has a certain * idea :* 
afterwards he has another like it, but differing in liveliness 
and in the accompanying pleasure or pain. If he already 
has, or if the ideas severally bring with them, the idea of a 
producing outward thing to which parts of his body are 
organs, on the one hand, and of a self ^ having power ^ on the 
other, then the liveliness, and the accompanying pleasure or 
pain, may become indications of the action of the thing, as 
their absence may be so of the action of the man's self; but 
not otherwise. Locke throughout^ in speaking of the simple 
ideas as produced or recalled, implies that they carry with 
them the consciousness of a cause, either an outward thing 
or the self, and only by so doing can he find in them the 
needful * confirmations ' of the * testimony of the senses.' 
This testimony is confirmed just because it distinguishes 
of itself between the work of ^ nature,' which is real, and 
the work of the man, which is a fiction. In other words, 
the confirmation is nothing else than the testimony itself 
— ^a testimony which, as we have seen, since it supposes 
consciousness, as such, to be consciousness of a thvngy 
eliminates by anticipation the question as to the agreement 
of consciousness with things, as with the extraneous. 

63. The distinction between the real and the fimtastic, xhis as- 
according to the passages under consideration, thus depends cription 
upon that between the work of nature and the work of man. "J^fngof 
It is the confusion between the two works that renders the sensation 
fantastic possible, while it is the consciousness of the distinc- J^^qi^ 
tion that sets us upon correcting it. Where all is the work relationt. 
of man and professes to be no more, as in the case of ' mixed 
modes,' there is no room for the fantastic (Book ii. chap. xxx. 
sec. 4, and Book iv. chap. iv. sec. 7) ; and where there is 
ever so much of the fantastic, it would not be so for us, un- 
less we were conscious of a ^ work of nature,' to which to 
oppose it. But on looking a little closer we find that to be 
conscious of an idea as the work of nature, in opposition to 

' To feel the object, in the sense of we oome to consider his doctrine of 

tooehing it, had a special significance * real essence/ as constituted by primary 

for Locke, since tonch with him was the qualities of body. See below, para- 

primaij 'reTelation' of body, as the graph 101. 
solid. More will be said of this when 


meant by 
the testi- 
mony of 

jfresent ez- 

isteuee ? 

the work of man, is to be conscious of it under relations 
which, according to Locke, are the inyentions of man. It is 
nothing else than to be conscious of it as the result of * some- 
thing haying power to produce it ' (Book ii. chap. xzzL sec. 
2), i. e. of a substance, to which it is related as a quality. 
< Nature ' is just the * something we know not what,' which 
is substance according to the * ahstract idea ' ttereof. Pro- 
ducing ideas, it exercises powers, as it essentially belongs to 
substance to do, according to our complex idea of it. (Book 
IT. chap, xxiii. sees. 9, 10.) But substance, according to 
Locke, whether as abstract or complex idea, is the * work- 
manship of the mind,' and power, as a relation (Book ii. 
chap. xxi. sec. 8, and chap. xxy. sec. 8), * is not contained in 
the real existence of things.' Again, the idea of substance, 
as a source of power, is the same as the idea of cause. 

* Whatever is considered by us to operate to the producing 
any particular simple idea, which did not before exists hath 
thereby in our minds the relation of a cause.' (Book ii. chap, 
xxvi. sec. 1.) But the idea of cause is not one * that the 
mind has of things as they are in themselves,' but one that 
it gets by its own act in ' bringing things to, and setting 
them by, one another.' (Book ii. chap. xxv. sec. 1.) Thus 
it is with the very ideas, which are the workmanship of man, 
that the simple idea has to be clothed upon, in order to * tes- 
tify ' to its being real, L e. (in Locke's sense) not the work 
of man. 

64. Thus invested, the simple idea has clearly lost its sim- 
plicity. It is not the momentary, isolated consciousness, 
but the representation of a thing determined by relations to 
other things in an order of nature, and causing an infinite 
series of resembling sensations to which a common name is 
applied. Thus in all the instances of sensuous testimony 
mentioned in the chapter before us, it is not really a simple 
sensation that is spoken of, but a sensation referred to a 
thing — ^not a mere smell, or taste, or sight, or feeling, but 
the smell of a rose, the taste of a pine-apple, the sight of 
the sun, the feeling of fire. (Book iv. chap. xi. sees. 4^7.) 
Immediately afterwards, however, reverting or attempting to 
revert to his strict doctrine of the mere individuality of the 
simple idea, he says that the testimony of the senses is a 

* present testimony employed about particular objects, that 
do then affect them,' and that sensitive knowledge extends 


no fiuriher than such testimony. This statement, taken by 
itself, is ambigaons. Does it mean that sensation testifies 
to the momentary presence to the indiyidual of a continuous 
existence, or is the existence itself as momentary as its pre- 
sence to sense ? The instance that follows does not remove 
the doubt. * If I saw such a collection of simple ideas as is 
wont to be called mcmy existing together one minute since, 
and am now alone ; I cannot be certain that the same man 
exists now, since there is no necessary connection of his 
existence a minute since with his existence now.' (Book iv. 
chap. zL sec. 9.) At first sight, these words might seem to 
decide that the existence is merely coincident with the pre- 
sence of the sensation — a decision fittal to the distinction 
between the real and fieuatastic, since, if the thing is only 
present with the sensation, there can be no combination of 
qualities in reality other than the momentary coincidence of 
sensations in us. Memory or imagination, indeed, might 
recall these in a different order from that in which they 
originally occurred ; but, if this original order had no being 
after the occurrence, there could be no ground for contrasting 
it with the order of reproduction as the real with the merely 

65. In the very sentence, however, where Locke restricts sueh re- 
tbe testimony of sensation to existence present along with it, jj*^^"* 
he uses langfuage inconsistent with this restriction. The tained, 
particular existence which he instances as * testified to * is "^^ 
that of ^ such a collection of simple ideas as is wont to be testimony 
called man.' But these ideas can only be present in succes- immean- 
sion. •(See Book n. chap. vii. sec. 9, and chap. xiv. sec. 3.) 
Even the surface of the man's body can only be taken in by 
successive acts of vision ; and, more obviously, the states of 
consciousness in which his qualities of motion and action 
are presented occupy separate times. If then sensation only 
testifies to an existence present along with it, how can it 
testify to the co-existence (say) of an erect attitude, of which 
I have a present sight, with the risibility which I saw a 
njinute ago ? How can the * collection of ideas wont to be 
called man,' as co-exisUngy be formed at all ? and, if it cannot, 
how can the present existence of an object so-called be tes- 
tified to by sense any more than the past? The same doc- 
trine, which is fatal to the supposition of ^ a necessary con- 
nexion between the man's existence a minute since and his 


existenoe now/ is in fact fatal to the supposition of his 
existence as a complex of qualities at all. It does not merely 
mean that, for anything we know, the man may have died. 
Of course he may, and yet there may be continuity of existence 
according to natural laws, though not one for which we 
have the testimony of present sense, between the living body 
and the dead. What Locke had in his mind was the notion 
that, as existence is testified to only by present sensation, 
and each sensation is merely individual and momentary, 
there could be no testimony to the continued existence of 
anything. He could not, however, do such violence to the 
actual fabric of knowledge as would have been implied in the 
logical development of this doctrine, and thus he allowed 
himself to speak of sense as testifying to the co-existence of 
sensible qualities in a thing, though the individual sensation 
could only testify to the presence of one at a time, and could 
never testify to their nexus in a common cause at all. This 
testimony to co-existence in a present thing once admitted, 
he naturally allowed himself in the further assumption that 
the testimony, on its recurrence, is a testimony to the same 
co-existence and the same thing. The existence of the same 
man (he evidently supposes), to which sensation testified an 
hour ago, may be testified to by a like sensation now. This 
means that resemblance of sensation becomes identity of a 
thing — that like sensations occurring at different times are 
interpreted as representing the same thing, which conti- 
nuously exists, though not testified to by sense, between the 
But itii ^^* ^^ short, as we have seen the simple idea of sensation 

not main- emerge from Locke's inquiry as to the beginning of know- 
testh^onj* ledge trjuisformed into the judgment, * I have an idea different 
is to opera- from other ideas which I did not make for myself,' so now 
tion of per- fyom the inquiry as to the correspondence between knowledge 
identical and reality it emerges as the consciousness of a thing now 
tilings- acting upon me, which has continued to exist since it acted 
on me before, and in which, as in a common cause, have 
existed together powers to affect me which have never affected 
me together. If in the one form the operation of thought 
in sense, the ^ creation of the understanding ' within the sim- 
ple idea, is only latent or potential, in the other it is actual 
and explicit. The relations of substance and quality, of 
cause and effect, and of identity— all * inventions of the 


mind ' — ^are neoessarilj inyolved in the inmiediate, spontar- 
neons testimony of passive sense. 

67. It will be noticed that it is upon the first of these, the Locke's 
relation of substance and quality, that our examination of ^f^iJ" 
Locke's Essay has so fiur chiefly gathered. In this it follows tions of 
the course taken by Locke himself. Of the idea of substance, ^^^^ 
eo nomine, he treats at large : of cause and identity (apart 

from the special question of personal identity) he says littie. 
So, too, the * report of the senses ' is commoidy exhibited as 
announcing the sensible qualities of a thiiig rather than the 
agency of a cause or continuity of existence. The difference, 
of course, is mainly verbaL Sensible qualities being, as Locke 
constantiy insists, nothing but ^ powers to operate on our 
senses ' directiy or indirectiy, the substance or thing, as the 
source of these, takes the character of a cause. Again, as 
the sensible quality is supposed to be one and the same in 
manifold separate cases of being felt, it has identity in con- 
trast with the variety of these cases, even as the thing has, 
on its part, in contrast with the variety of its qualities. 
Something, however, remains to be said of Locke's treat- 
ment of the ideas of cause and identity in the short passages 
where he treats of them expressly. Here, too, we shall find 
the same contrast between the given and the invented, tacitly 
contradicted by an account of the given in terms of the 

68. The relation of cause and eflfect, according to Locke's Thatftom 
general statement as to relation, must be something * not con- J^ dorivef 
tained in the real existence of things, but extraneous and idea of 
superinduced.' (Book ii. chap. xxv. sec. 8.) It is a *com- ^p!|^^ 
plex idea,' not belonging to things as they are in themselves, it. 
which the mind makes by its own act. (Book n. chap xii. 

sees. 1, 7, and chap. xxv. sec. 1.) Its origin, however, is thus 
described : — * In the notice that our senses take of the con- 
stant vicissitude of things, we cannot but observe that several 
particular, both qualities and substances, begin to exist ; and 
that they receive this their existence from the due application 
and operation of some other being. From this observation 
we get our ideas of cause and effect. That which produces 
any simple or complex idea we denote by the general name 
cause ; and that which is produced, effect. Thus, finding 
that in that substance which we call wax, fluidity, which is 
a simple idea that was not in it before, is constantly pro- 


daced by the application of a certain degree of heat, we call 
the simple idea of heat, in relation to fluidity in wax, the 
cause of it, and fluidity the eflFect. So, also, finding that the 
substance, wood, which is a certain coUection of simple ideas 
so-called, by the application of fire is turned into another 
substance called ashes, Le. another complex idea, consisting 
of a collection of simple ideas, quite different from that com- 
plex idea which we call wood ; we consider fire, in relation 
to ashes, as cause, and the ashes as effect.' Here we find 
that the ♦ given,' upon which the relation of cause and effect 
is * superinduced ' or from which the * idea of it is got' (to 
give Locke the benefit of both expressions), professedly, ac- 
cording to the first sentence of the passage quoted, involves 
the complex or derived idea of substance. The sentence, in- 
deed, is a remarkable instance of the double refraction which 
arises from redundant phraseology. Our senses are supposed 
to ^ take notice of a constant vicissitude of things,' or sub- 
stances. Thereupon we observe, what is necessarily implied 
in this vicissitude, a beginning of existence in substances or 
their qualities, ^ received from the due application or opera- 
tion of some other being.* Thereupon we infer, what is 
simply another name for existence thus given and received, 
a relation of cause and effect. Thus not only does the dah^m 
of the process of * invention' in question, i.e. the observation 
of change in a thing, involve a derived idea, but a derived 
idea which presupposes just this process of invention. 
hAtioiialA 69. Here again it is necessary to guard against the notion 
•"petitlo *^* Locke's obvious peiitio principii might be avoided by 
principii' a better statement without essential change in his doctrine 
of ideas. It is true that ' a notice of the vicissitude of things ' 
includes that * invention of the understanding ' which it is 
supposed to suggest, but state the primary knowledge other- 
wise — ^reduce the vicissitude of things, as it ought to be re- 
duced, in order to make Locke consistent, to the mere multi- 
plicity of sensations — and the appearance of suggestion 
ceases. Change or * vicissitude ' is quite other than mere 
diversity. It is diversity relative to something which main- 
tains an identity. This identity, which ulterior analysis may 
find in a * law of nature,' Locke found in * things * or * sub- 
stances.' By the same unconscious subreption, by which 
with him a sensible thing takes the place of sensation, ^ vi- 
cissitude of things ' takes the place of multiplicity of sensa*- 


tions, carrjing with it the obserration that the changed state 
of the thing is due to something else. The mere multiplicity 
of sensations could convey no such * observation/ any more 
than the sight of counters in a row would convey the notion 
that one * received its existence ' from the other. Only so 
fiur as the manifold appearances are referred, as its vicissi- 
tudes, to something which remains one, does any need ot 
accounting for their diverse existence, or in consequence any 
observation of its derivation * from some other being,' arise. 
Locke, it is true, after stating that it is upon a notice of the 
vicissitude of things that the observation in question rests, 
goes on to speak as if an origination of substances, which is 
just the opposite of their vicissitude, might be observed ; and 
the second instance of production which he gives — ^that of 
ashes upon the burning of wood — seems intended for an in- 
stance of the production of a substance, as distinct from the 
production of a quality. He is here, however, as he often 
does, using the term ^ substance ' loosely, for ' a certain col- 
lection of simple ideas,' without reference to the ' substratum 
wherein they do subsist,' which he would have admitted to 
be ultimately the same for the wood and for the ashes. The 
conception, indeed, of such a substratum, whether vaguely 
as * nature,' or more precisely as a ^ real constitution of in- 
sensible parts ' (Book in. chap. iii. sees. 18, &c.), governed 
all his speculation, and rendered to him what he here calls 
mibstance virtually a Tnode, and its production properly a 
' vicissitude.* 

70. We thus find that it is only so far as simple ideas are ^^^^ . 
referred to things — only so far as eaoh in turn, to use Locke's cause has 
instance, is regarded as an appearance ^ in a substance which ^^ P^^. 
was not in it before ' — ^that our sensitive experience, the sup- tive ex- 
posed daium of knowledge, is an experience of the vicissi- PT®°*^?^ 
tades of things; and again, that only as an experience of ^t fix>m 
such vicissitude does it furnish the ^ observation from which it. 
we get our ideas of cause .and effect.' But the reference of a 
sensation to a sensible thing means its reference to a cause. 
In other words, the invented relation of cause and effect 
must be found in the primary experience in order that it may 
be g^t from it. * 

' Loeke's eontradiction of himself in it his acooant of the idea of power. 

icgud to this relation might be ozhi- The two are precisely similar, the idea 

bitad in a still more striking light by of pow er bein^ r epresented as got by a 

putting tide by side with his account oS oqtj^i^^Skralt^utiiTis^rf' aimple ideas 




Origin of *^^' '^^ Same holds of that other * product of the mind/ 
the idea of the relation of identity. This * idea ' according to Locke, is 
Larding forn^©d when, * considering anything as existing at any de- 
to Locke, termined time and place, we compare it with itself existing 
at another time.' * in this consists identity/ he adds, 'when 
the ideas it is attributed to, vary not at all from what they 
were that moment wherein we consider their former existence, 
and to which we compare the present ; for we never finding 
nor conceiving it possible that two things of the same kind 
should exist in the same place at the same time, we rightly 
conclude that whatever exists anywhere, at any time, excludes 
all of the same kind, and is there itself alone. When, there* 
fore, we demand whether anything be the same or no ? it 
refers always to something that existed such a time in such 
a place, which it was certain at that instant was the same 
with itself, and no other ; from whence it follows that one 
thing cannot have two beginnings of existence, nor two things 
one beginning ; it being impossible for two things of the 
same kind to be or exist in the same instant in the very same 
place, or one and the same thing in different places. That, 
therefore, that had one beginning, is the same thing ; and 
that which had a different beginning in time and place from 
that is not the same, but diverse.' He goes on to inquire 
about the prindpiv/m indimduatiardsy which he decides is 
* existence itself, which determines a being of any sort to a 
particular time and place, incommunicable to two beings of 
the same kind ... for being at that instant what it is and 
nothing else, it is the same, and so must continue as long as 
its existence is continued ; for so long it will be the same, 
and no other.' (Book ii. chap, xxvii. sees. 1 — 3). 
Relation of *^^' ^^ ^** essential to bear in mind with regard to identity, 
identity as With regard to cause and effect, that no distinction 
°?g/° ^ according to Locke can legitimately be made between the 
tingniflhed relation and the idea of the relation. As to substance, it is 
of^it ^^** *'^®' ^® ^^ driven in his controversy with Stillingfleet to 
distinguish between Hhe being and the idea thereof,' but 
in dealing with relation he does not attempt any such vio- 
lence to his proper system. Between the 4dea' as such and 

in things without (Book ii. chap. xzi. ought to be complex, he reckons it a 

sec. 1), just as the idea of cause and simple and original one, and by usingit 

effect is. Power, too, he expressly says, interchangeably with ' sensible quality ' 

is a relation. Yet, although the idea of makes 't a primary datum of i 
it, both as derived and as of a relation. 


^ being ^ as sach, his 'new way of ideas/ as Stillingfleet 
plaintively called it, left no fair room for distinction. In 
this indeed lay its permanent value for speculative thought. 
The distinction by which alone it could consistently seek to 
replace the old one, so as to meet the exigencies of language 
and knowledge, was that between simple ideas, as given and 
necessarily real, and the reproductions or combinations in 
which the mind may alter them. But since every relation 
implies a putting together of ideas, and is thus always, as Locke 
avows, a complex idea or the work of the mind, a distinction 
between its being and the idea thereof, in that sense of the 
distinction in which alone it can ever be consistently admitted 
by Locke, was clearly inadmissible. Thus in the passages 
before us the relation of identity is not explicitly treated as 
an original 'being' or 'existence.' It is an idea formed by 
the mind upon a certain ' consideration of things' being or 
existent. But on looking closely at Locke's accoimt, we find 
that it is only so far as it already belongs to, nay constitutes, 
the things, that it is formed upon consideration of them. 

73. When it is said that the idea of identity, or of any other This « in- 
relation, is formed upon consideration of things as existing ▼ented' re- 
in a certain way, this is naturally understood to mean — indeed, forms the 
otherwise it is unmeaning — that the things are first knorvn as *^ei7beii^; 
existing, and that afterwards the idea of the relation in ques- ^ °^* 
tion is formed. But according to Locke, as we have seen,* 
the first and simplest act of knowledge possible is the percep- 
tion of identity between ideas. Either then the ' things,* 
upon consideration of which the idea of identity is formed, 
are not known at all, or the knowledge of them involves the 
very idea afterwards formed on consideration of them. Locke, 
having at whatever cost of self-contradiction tx) make his 
theory fit the exigencies of language, virtually adopts the 
latter alternative, though with an ambiguity of expression 
which makes a definite meaning difficult to elicit. We have, 
however, the positive statement to begin with, that the 
comparison in which the relation originates, is of a thing 
with itself as existing at another time. Again, the ' ideas ' 
(used interchangeably with ' things '), to which identity is 
attributed, 'vary not at all from what they were at that 
moment wherein we consider their former existence.' It is 
here clearly implied that 'things' or 'ideas' eajw^, i.e. are 

* See above, ponograph 25. 


given to ns in the spontaueons consciousness which we do 
not make, as each one and the same throughout a multipliciiy 
of times. This, again, means that the relation of identity or 
sameness, Le. unity of thing under multiplicity of appearance, 
belongs to or consists in the * very being * of those given 
objects of consciousness, which are in Locke's sense the real, 
and upon which according to him all relation is superinduced 
by an after-act of thought. So long as each such object 
' continues to exist,' so long its ' sameness with itself must 
continue,' and this sameness is the complex idea, the relation, 
of identity. Just as before, following Locke's lead, we found 
the simple idea, as the element of knowledge, become com- 
plex — a perceived identity of ideas ; so now mere existence, 
the ' very being of things' (which with Locke is only another 
name for the simple idea), resolves itself iuto a relation, 
which it requires 'consideration by the mind' to constitute. 
Locke fails 7^- ^® process of self- contradiction, by which a ' creation 
todw- of the mind ' finds its way into the real or given, must also 
between app^OT in a contradictory conception of the real itself. Kept 
identity pure of all that Locke reckons intellectual fiction, it can be 
Sft^*" nothing but a simple chaos of individual units : only by the 
superinduction of relation can there be sameness, or con- 
tinuity of existence, in the minutest of these for successive 
moments. Locke presents it arbitrarily under the conception 
of mere individuality or of continuity, according as its dis- 
tinction from the work of the mind, or its intelligible content, 
happens to be before him. A like see-saw in his account of 
the individuality and generality of ideas has already been 
noticed.^ In his discussion of identity the contradiction is 
partly disguised by a confusion between mere unity on the 
one hand, and sameness or unity in difference, on the other. 
Thus, after starting with an account of identity as belonging 
to ideas which are the same at different timesy he goes on to 
speak of a thing as the same with itself, at a smgle instafU. 
So, too, by the prindpiv/m individnmiionisy he understands 
' existence itself, which determines a being of any sort to a 
particular time and place.' As it is clear from tlie context 
that by the priruApviim individ/uationts he meant the source 
of identity or sameness, it will follow that by ' sameness ' he 
understood singleness of a thing in a single time and place. 
Whence then the plurality, without which 'sameness' is 

> See above, pangrvphe 43, and the following. 


unmeaning ? In fact, Locke, having excladed it in bis defi- 
iiition, coyertly brings it back again in bis instance, wbicb is 
that of ' an atom, i.e. a continued body under one immutable 
superficies, existing in a determined time and place/ This, 
^ considered in any instant of its existence, is in tbat instant 
tbe same with itself.' But it is so because — and, if we suppose 
the consideration of plurality of times excluded, only because 
—it is a ' eontinued ' body, which implies, though its place be 
determined, that it exists in a plurality of parts of space. 
Either this plurality, or that of instants of its existence, must 
be recognised in contrast with the unity of body, if this unity 
is to become ' sameness with itself.' In adding that not only 
at the supposed instant is the atom the same, but * so must 
continue as long as its existence continues,' Locke shows that 
he really thought of the identical body under a plurality of 
times ex parte posty if not ex parte ante. 

75. But how is this continuity, or sameness of existence in FeelingB 
plurality of times or spaces, compatible with the constitution JfJ,*^® , 
of * real existence ' by mere individua f The difficulty is the do not 
same, according to Lockers premisses, whether the simple ^mitof 
ideas by themselves are taken for the real individtia, or How Sen 
whether each is taken to represent a single separate thing. ^ i^en- 
In his chapter on identity he expressly says that 'things whose ^ ^ 
existence is in succession ' do not admit of identity. Such, 
he addSy are motion and thought ; ' because, each perishing 
the moment it begins, they cannot exist in different times or 
in different places as permanent beings can at different times 
exist in distant places.' (Book i. chap, xxvii. sec. 2.) What 
he here calls * thought ' clearly includes the passive conscious- 
ness in which alone, according to his strict doctrine, reality 
is given. So elsewhere (Book ii. chap. vii. sec. 9), in account- 
ing for the ' simple idea of succession,' he says generally that 
' if we look immediately into ourselves we shall find our ideas 
always, whilst we have any thought, passing in train, one 
going and another coming, without intermission.' ^ No state- 
ment of the 'perpetual flux' of ideas, as each having a sepa- 
rate beginning and end, and ending in the very moment 

* It i« tra« that in this place Locke the mind ' if there is to be any either 

dittingnishea between the * snggestion eenaation or idea at all (Book ii. chap, 

byonr senaee' of the ideaof fnicceasion, ix. sees. 3 and 4), the digtinction be- 

and that which passes in oar 'minds/ tween the 'suggestion by cnr senses' 

by which it is ' more constantly offered and what * passes in our minds ' cannot 

ns.' Bat since, according to him, the be maintained, 
idea of sensation mnst be ' produced in 


when it begins, can be stronger than the above. If ^ ideas' 
of any sort, according to this account of them, are to consti- 
tute real existence, no sameness can be found in reality. It 
must indeed be a relation ^ invented by the mind.' 
Yet it IS 76. This, it may be said, is just the conclusion that was 

Eli™thafc wanted in order to make Locke's doctrine of the particular 
the idea of relation of identity correspond with his general doctrine of 
d^ , the fictitiousness of relations. To complete the consistency, 
however, his whole account of the origin of the relation (or 
of the idea in which it consists) must be changed, since it 
supposes it to be derived from an observation of things or 
existence, which again is to suppose sameness to be in the 
things or to be real. This change made, philosophy would 
have to start anew with the problem of accounting for the 
origin of the fictitious idea. It would have to explain how it 
comes to pass that the mind, if its function consists solely in 
reproducing and combining given ideas, or again in ^ ab- 
stracting ' combined ideas from each other, should be able 
to invent a relation which is neither a given idea, nor a re- 
production, combination, or abstract residuum of given ideas. 
This is the great problem which we shall find Hume attempt- 
ing. Locke really never saw its necessity, because the 
dominion of language — a donunion which, as he did not 
recognise it, he had no need to account for — always, in spite 
of his assertion that simple ideas are the sole data of con- 
sciousness, held him to the belief in another datum of which 
ideas are the appearances, viz., a thing having identity, be- 
cause the same with itself in the manifold times of its 
appearance. This datum, under various guises, but in each 
demonstrably, according to Locke's showing, a * creation of 
thought,' has met us in all the modes of his theory, as the 
condition of knowledge. As the ^abstract idea' of sub- 
stance it rendera ^ perishing ' ideas into qualities by which 
objects may be discerned. (Book xi. chap. xi. sec. 1.) As 
the relative idea of cause, it makes them ^ affections ' to be 
accounted for. As the fiction of a universal, it is the condi- 
tion of their mutual qualification as constituents of a whole. 
Finally, as the 'superinduced' relation of sameness, the 
direct negative of the perpetual beginning and ending of 
* ideas,' it constitutes the * very being of things.' 
J^I^Wb ^7. * The very being of things,' let it be noticed, according 
doctrine of to what Locke reckoned their * real,' as distinct from their 


* nominal,* essence. The consideration of this distinction 
has been hitherto postponed ; but the discussion of the rela- 
tion of identity, as subsisting between the parts of a ' con- 
tinned body/ brings ns upon the doctrine of matter and its 
' primary qualities,' which cannot be properly treated except 
in connection with the other doctrine (which Locke unhap- 
pily kept apart) of the two sorts of ^ essence.' So far, it will 
be remembered, the ^ facts ' or given ideas, which we have 
found him unawares converting into theories or ' invented ' 
ideas, have been those of the ^ secondary qualities of body." 
It is these which are united into things or substances, 
having been already 'found in them :' it is from these that 
we 'infer' the relation of cause and effect, because as 
< vicissitudes of things ' or ' affections of sense ' they pre- 
suppose it : it is these again which, as ' received from with- 
out^' testify the present existence of something, because in 
being so received they are already interpreted as 'appear- 
ances of something.' That the ' thing,' by reference to which 
these ideas are judged to be ' real,' ' adequate,' and ' true ' — 
or, in other words, become elements of a knowledge — is yet 
itself according to Locke's doctrine of substance and rela- 
tion a 'fiction of thought,' has been sufficiently shown. 
That it is so no less according to his doctrine of essence will 
also appear. The question ^vill then be, whether by the 
same showing the ideas of body, of the self, and of God, can 
be other than fictions, and the way will be cleared for Hume's 
philosophic adventure of accounting for them as such. 

78. In Locke's doctrine of 'ideas of substances,' the Thisw- 
' thing ' appeared in two inconsistent positions : on the one P®*^ *■?*• 
hand, as that m which they ' are found ; ' on the other, as tencj 
that which results from their concretion, or which, such f°^**™ 
concretion having been made, we accustom ourselves to trine of 
suppose as its basis. This inconsistency, latent to Locke Bulwtanca, 
himself in the theory of substance, comes to the surface in 

the theory of essence, where it is (as he thought) overcome, 
but in truth only made more definite, by a distinction of 

79. This latter theory has so far become part and parcel Flan to b« 
of the * common sense ' of educated men, that it might seem followed. 
scarcely to need restatement. It is generally regarded as 
eoiupleting the work, which Bacon had begun, of transferring 

■ See above, paragraph 20. 


philosophy from the scholastic bondage of words to the fraitful 
discipline of facts. In the process of transmission and 
popular adaptation, however, its trne significance has been 
lost sight of, and it has been forgotten that to its original 
exponent implicitly — explicitly to his more logical disciple — 
though it did indeed distinguish effectively between things 
and the meaning of words, it was the analysis of the latter 
^ , only, and not the understanding of things, that it left as the 
•\^ possible function of knywledg^ e. It will be well, then, in 

^ what follows, first briefly to restate the theory in its general 

form ; then to show how it conflicts with the actual know- 
ledge which mankind supposes itself to have attained ; and 
finally to exhibit at once the necessity of this conflict as a 
result of Locke's governing ideas, and the ambiguities by 
which he disguised it from himself. 
What 80. The essence of a thing with Locke, in the only sense 

^^ , in which we can know or intelligibly speak of it, is the 
by es- meaning of its name. This, again, is an * abstract or general 
nence.' idea,' which means that it is an idea 'separated from the 
circumstances of time and place, and any other ideas that 
may determine it to this or that particular existence. By 
this way of abstraction it is made capable of representing 
more individuals than one ; each of which, having in it a 
conformity to that abstract idea, is (as we call it) of that 
sort.' (Book III. chap. iii. sec. 6.) That which is given in 
immediate experience, as he proceeds to explain, is this or 
that 'particular existence,' Peter or James, Mary or Jane, 
such particular existence being already a complex idea.* 
That it should be so is indeed in direct contradiction to his 
doctrine of the primariness of the simple idea, but is necessary 
to his doctrine of abstraction. Some part of the complex 
idea (it is supposed) — ^less or more — we proceed to leave out. 
The minimum of subtraction would seem to be that of the 
' circumstances of time and place,' in which the particular 
existence is given. This is the ' separation of ideas,' first 
made, and alone suffices to constitute an 'abstract idea,* 
even though, as is the case with the idea of the sun, there is 
only one ' particular substance ' to agree with it. (Book in. 
chap. vi. sec. 1.) In proportion as the particular substances 
compared are more various, the subtraction of ideas is 
larger, but, be it less or more, the remainder is the abstract 
* Book ni. chap. HL sec 7, at the end. 


idea» to which a name — e.g. man — is annexed, and to which 
u a ' species ' or ^ standard ' other particular existences, on 
being * found to agree with it,' may be referred, so as to be 
called by the same name. These ideas then, ' tied together 
by a name,' form the essence of each particular existence, to 
which the same name Ls applied (Book iii. chap. iii. sees. 1 2 
and the following.) Such essence, howeyer, according to 
Locke, is ^ nominal,' not * real.' It is a complex — ^fuller or 
emptier— of ideas in us, which, though it is a ^uniting 
medium between a general name and particular beings,' ^ in 
no way represents the qualities of the latter. These, consist- 
ing in an * internal constitution of insensible parts,' form the 
^ real essence ' of the particuhur beings ; an essence, how- 
erer, of which we can know nothing. (Book in. chap. yi. 
sec. 21, and ix. sec. 12.) 

81. It is the formation of ' nominal essences ' that renders qqi. ^o 
general propositions possible. * General certainty,' says nominal 
Locke, * is never to be found but in our ideas. Whenever JJaT^*" 
we go to seek it elsewhere in experiment or observation general 
without lis, our knowledge goes not beyond particulars. It §^{J^ 
is the contemplation of our own abstract ideas, that alone is late, 
able to afford us general knowledge.' (Book iv. chap. vi. 
sec 16.) * General knowledge,' he says again, * lies only in 
our own thoughts.'* (Book iv. chap. vi. sec. 13.) This use 
of * our ideas ' and * our own thoughts ' as equivalent phrases, 
each antithetical to ^ real existence,' tells the old tale of a 
deviation from ' the new way of ideas ' into easier paths. 
According to this new way in its strictness, as we have suffi- 
ciently seen, there is nowhere for anything to be found but 
^ in our ideas.' It therefore in no way distinguishes general 
knowledge or certainty that it cannot be found elsewhere. 
Locke, however, having allowed himself in tbe supposition 
that simple ideas report a real existence, other than them- 
selves, but to which they are related as ectype to archetype, 
tacitly proceeds to convert them into real existences, to 
which ideas in general, as mere thoughts of our own, may be 
opposed. Along with this conversion, there supervenes upon 
the original distinction between simple and complex ideas, 
which alone does duty in the Second Book of the Essay, 
another distinction, essential to Locke's doctrine of the 
* reality' of knowledge — that between the idea, whether 

' Bookni. ehap. iii. see. 13. * Cf. Book it. chap. iii. sec. 81. 

VOL. I. P 



I.e. only to 
having no 
real exis- 

An ab- 
stract idea 
may be a 
simple one. 

simple or complex, as originally given in sensation, and the 
same as retained or reproduced in the mind. It is only in 
the former form thab the idea, howeyer simple, reports, and 
thus (with Locke) itself is, a real existence. Such real ex- 
istence is a * particular ' existence, and our knowledge of it 
a ' particular ' knowledge. In other words, according to the 
only consistent doctrine that we have been able to elicit from 
Locke, Mt is a knowledge which consists in a consciousness, 
upon occasion of a present sensation — say, a sensation of 
redness — ^that some object is present here and now causing 
the sensation ; an object which, accordingly, must be * par- 
ticular ' or transitory as the sensation. The * here and now,* 
ap in such a case they constitute the particularity of the 
object of consciousness, so also render it a real existence. 
Separate these (* the circumstances of time and place ' *) 
from it, and it at once loses its real existence and becomes an 
* abstract idea,' one of ' our own thoughts,' of which as * in 
the mind ' agi*eement or disagreement with some other ab- 
stract idea can be asserted in a general proposition ; e.g. * red 
is not blue.' (Book iv. chap. vii. sec. 4.)* 

82. It is between simple ideas, it will be noticed, that a 
relation is here asserted, and in this respect the proposition 
differs from such an one as maybe formed when simple ideas 
have been compounded into the nominal essence of a thing, 
and in which some one of these may be asserted of the 
thing, being already included within the meaning of its 
name ; e.g. ' arose has leaves.' But as expressing a relation 
between ideas 'abstract' or 'in the mind,' in distinction 
from present sensations received from without, the two sorts 
of proposition, according to the doctrine of Locke's Fourth 
Book, stand on the same footing.^ It is a nominal essence 
with which both alike are concerned, and on this depends 
the general certainty or self-evidence, by which they are 
distinguished from * experiment or observation without us.' 
These can never * reach with certainty farther than the bare 

* See above, paragraph 56. 

* Book III. chap. iii. sec. 6. 

' In case there should be any doubt 
as to Locke's meaning in this passage, 
it may be well to compare Book it. 
diap. ix. sec. 1. There he distinctly 
opposes tlie consideration of ideas in the 
understanding to the knowledge of real 
•ziHtADce. Here (Book it. chap. vii. 

sec. 4) he distinctly speaks of the pro- 
position * red is not blue ' as expressing 
a consideration of ideas in the under- 
standing. It follows that it is not a 
proposition as to real existence. 

* Already in Book ii. (chap. xxxi. sec 
12), the simple idea, as abstract, it 
spoken of as a nomiiud essence. 


instance ' (Book rv. chap. vi. sec. 7) : i.e., thoagli the only 
channels by which we can reach real existence, they can 
ner^ tell more than the presence of this or that sensation 
as caused by an unknown thing without, or the present dis- 
agreement of such present sensations with each other. As 
to the recurrence of such sensations, or any permanently 
real relation between them, they can tell us nothing. 
Nothing as to their recurrence, because, though in each case 
they show the presence of something causing the sensations^ 
they show nothing of the real essence upon which their 
recurrence depends.' Nothing as to any permanently real 
relation between them, because, although the disagreement 
between ideas of blue and red, and the agreement between 
one idea of red and another, as in the mind^ is self-evident, 
yet as thus in the mind they are not ^ actual sensations ' at 
all (Book IV. chap. xi. sec. 6), nor do they convey that 
'sensitive knowledge of particular existence,' which is the only 
possible knowledge of it. (Book iv. chap. iii. sec» 21.) As 
actual sensations and indices of reality, they do indeed 
differ in this or that ' bare instance,' but can convey no cer- 
tainty that the real thing or * parcel of matter ' (Book in. 
chap. iii. sec. 18), which now causes the sensation of (and 
thus is) red, may not at another time cause the sensation of 
(and thus he) blue.* 

83. We thus come upon the cracial antithesis between How then 
relations of ideas and matters of fact, with the exclusion of " science 
general certainty as to the latter, which was to prove such possible? 
a potent weapon of scepticism in the hands of Hume. Of 

^ Cf. Book IT. chap. yi. see. 5. ' If simple ideas have been found to coexist 

we could certainly know (which is im- in any substance, these we may with 

poosible) where a leal essence, which confidence join together again, and so 

we know not, is— e.g. in what parcels make abstract ideas of substances. For 

of matter the real essence of gold is ; whatever hare onoe had an union in 

yet eould we not be sure, that this or nature, may be united again.' In aU 

that quality could with truth be affirmed such passages, howerer, as will appear 

of gold ; since it is impossible for us to below, the strict opposition between the 

know that this or that quality or idea real and the mental is lost sisht of, the 

has a necessary connexion with a real * nature ' or ' substance,' in ¥mich ideas 

fesence, of which we hare no idea at ' have a union,' or are ' found to coexist.,' 

alL' being a system of relations which, ac- 

Sereral passages, of course, can be cording to Locke, it requires a mind to 

adduced from Locke which are incon- constitute, and thus itself a ' nominal 

sistent with the statement in the text: essence.' 

e^. Book IT. chap. iv. sec 12. 'To 'Of. Book it. chap. iii. see. 29; 

Btake knowledge real concerning sub- Book nr. chap. Ti. sec. 14; Book iv. 

stances, the ideas must be taken from chap. xi. sec. 11. 
the real existence of things. Whatever 

r 2 



its incompatibility with recognized science we can Iiave no 
stronger sign than the fact that, after more than a century 
has elapsed since Locke's premisses were pushed to their 
legitimate conclusion, the received system of logic among 
Qs is one which, while professing to accept Locke's doctrine 
of essence, and with it the antithesis in question, throughout 
assumes the possibility of general propositions as to matters 
of fact, and seeks in their methodical discovery and proof 
that science of nature which Locke already ^ suspected ' to 
be impossible. (Book iv. chap. xii. sec. 10.) 

84. That, so far as any inference from past to future 
formidM ' Uniformities is necessary to the science of nature, his doctrine 
ofpheno- floes more than justify such 'suspicion,' is plain enough. 
b» known. Does it, however, leave room for so much as a knowledge of 
past uniformities of fact, in which the natural philosopher, 
accepting the doctrine^ might probably seek refuge P At 
first sight, it might seem to do so. ' As, when our senses 
are actually employed about any object, we do know that it 
does exist ; so by our memory we may be assured that here- 
tofore things that affected our senses have existed — and 
thus we have knowledge of the past existence of several 
things, whereof our senses having informed us, our memories 
still retain the ideas.' (Book iv. chap. xi. sec. 11.) Let us 
see, however, how this knowledge is restricted. * Seeing 
water at this instant, it is an unquestionable truth to me 
that water doth exist; and remembering that I saw it 
yesterday, it will also be always true, and as long as my 
memory retains it, always an undoubted proposition to me, 
that water did exist the 18th of July, 1688 ; as it will also 
be equally true that a certain number of very fine colours 
did exist, which at the same time I saw on a bubble of that 
water ; but being now quite out of sight both of the water 
and bubbles too, it is no more certainly known to me that 
the water doth now exist, than that the bubbles and colours 
tlierein <lo so ; it being no more necessary that water should 
exist to-day because it existed yesterday, than that the 
colours or bubbles exist to-day because they existed yester- 
day.'— (liti.) 

85. The result is that though I may enumerate a multi- 
awaro of ^^^ ^^ P^^ matters-of-fact about water, I cannot gather 
the ftiU them up in any general statement about it as a real exist- 
hb^wn ence. So soon as I do 8o« I pass from water as a seal 



ezifltenoe to its 'nominal essence,' i.e., to the ideas retained 
in my mind and put together in a fictitious substance, to 
which I have annexed the name * water.* If we proceed to 
apply this doctrine to the supposed past matters-of-fact 
themselves, we shall find these too attenuating themselves 
to nonentity. Subtract in every case from the * particular 
existence' of which we have 'sensitive knowledge' the 
qualifiication by ideas which, as retained in the mind, do not 
testify to a present real existence, and what remains ? There 
is a certainty, according to Locke (Book iv. chap. xi. sec. 
11), not, indeed, that water exists to-day because it existed 
yesterday — this is only * probable ' — but that it has, as a past 
matter-of-fact, at this time and that ' continued long in 
existence,' because this has been ' observed ; ' which must 
mean (Sook iv. chap. ii. sees. 1, 5, and 9), because there has 
been a continued * actual sensation ' of it. * Water,' how- 
ever, is a complex idea of a substance, and of the elements 
of this complex idea those only which at any moment are 
given in 'actual sensation' may be accounted to 'really 
exist.' Firsts then, must disappear from reality the ' some- 
thing,' that unknown substratum of ideas, of which the idea 
is emphatically ' abstract.' This gone, we naturally fall back 
upon a fact of co-existence between ideas, as being a reality, 
though the ' thing ' be a fiction. But if this co-existence is 
to be real or to represent a reality, the ideas between which 
it obtains must be ' actual sensations.' These, whatever they 
may be, are at least opposed by Locke to ideas retained in 
the mind, which only form a nominal essence. But it is the 
association of such nominal essence, in the supposed observa- 
[ tion of water, with the actual sensation that alone gives the 
latter a meaning. Set this aside as unreal, and the reality, 
which the sensation reveals, is at any rate one of which 
nothing can be said. It cannot be a relation between sensa- 
tions, for such relation implies a consideration of them by 
the mind, whereby, according to Locke, they must cease to 
be ' real existences.' (Book n. chap. xxv. sec. 1.) It cannot 
even be a single sensation as contimtously dbserved, for every 
present moment of such observation has at the next become 
a past, and thus the sensation observed in it has lost its 
'actuality,' and cannot, as a ^real eadstencSy qualify the 
sensation observed in the next. Bestrict the ' real exist- 
ence/ in short, as Locke does, to an ' actual present sensa- 


tion/ which can only be defined by opposition to an idea 
retained in the mind, and at every instant of its existence 
it has passed into the mind and thus ceased really to exist. 
Beality is in perpetual process of disappearing into the un- 
reality of thought. No point can be fixed either in the flux of 
time or in the imaginary process from * without ' to * within * 
the mind, on the one side of which can be placed * real exis- 
tence/ on the other the * mere idea.* It is only because Locke 
unawares defines to himself the ^ actual sensation ^ as repre- 
sentative of a real essence, of which, however, according to 
him, as itself unknown, the presence is merely inferred from 
>the sensation, that the ^ actual sensation ' itself is saved from 
i the limbo of nominal essence, to which ideas, as abstract or 
^in the mind, are consigned. Only, again, so far as it is thus 
illogically saved, are we entitled to that distinction between 
* facts ' and * things of the mind,* which Locke once for all 
fixed for English philosophy, 
wbich is, 86. By this time we are familiar with the difficulties which 
to make ^j^jg antithesis has in store for a philosophy which yet admits 
abstract that it is Only in the mind or in relation to consciousness 
residuum — in Q^ie word, as * ideas * — that facts are to be found at 
oasness!" ^\ while by the * mind ' it understands an abstract generali- 
zation from the many minds which severally are bom and 
grow, sleep and wake, with each of us. The antithesis 
itself, like every other form in which the impulse after true 
knowledge finds expression, implies a distinction between 
the seeming and the real ; or between that which exists for 
the consciousness of the individual and that which really 
exists. But outside itself consciousness cannot get. It is 
there that the real must, at any rate, manifest itself, if it is 
to be found at all. Yet the original antithesis between the 
mind and its unknown opposite still prevails, and in conse- 
quence that alone which, though indeed in the mind, is yet 
given to it by no act of its own, is held to represent the real. 
This is the notion which dominates Locke. He strips from 
the formed content of consciousness all that the mind seems 
to have done for itself, and the abstract residuum, that of 
which the individual cannot help beiug conscious at each 
moment of his existence, is or * reports ' the real, in opposi- 
tion to the mind's creation. This is Feeling; or more 
strictly — since it exists, and whatever does so must exist as 
one in a number (Book ii. chap. viL sec. 7) — ^it is the multitude 


of single feelings, 'each perishing the moment it begins' 
(Book II. chap, xxvii. sec. 2), from which all the definiteness 
that comes of composition and relation must be supposed ab- 
seDt. Thus, in trying to get at what shall be the mere fact in 
detachment from mental accretions, Locke comes to what is 
still consciousness, but the merely indefinite in consciousness. 
He seeks the real and finds the void. Of the re al as outside con- 
sciousness nothing can be said ; and of that again within con- 
sciousness, which is supposed to represent it, nothing can be 

87. We have already seen how Locke, in his doctrine of Grouna t.f 
secondary qualities of substances, practically gets over this ^f^"^^"" 
difficulty ; how he first projects out of the simple ideas, actual 
under relations which it requires a mind to constitute, a ■^'^'^j^^^ 
cognisable system of things, and then gives content and inthemind 
definiteness to the simple ideas in ns by treating them as J! J**®^^ * 
manifestations of this system of things. In the doctrine of the mind. 
propositions, the proper correlative to the reduction of the 
real to the present simple idea, as that of which we cannot 
get rid, would be the reduction of the * real proposition ' to 
the mere ^ it is now felt.' If the matter-of-fact is to be that 
in consciousness which is independent of the ^ work of the 
mind ' in comparing and compounding, this is the only pos- 
sible expression for it. It states the only possible ^real 
essence,' which yet is an essence of nothing, for any refer- 
ence of it to a thing, if the thing is outside consciousness, 
is an impossibility ; and if it is within consciousness, implies 
an ^ invention of the mind ' both in the creation of a thing, 
* always the same with itself,' out of perishing feelings, and 
in the reference of the feelings to such a thing. Thus carried 
out, the antithesis between ^fact' and 'creation of the 
mind' becomes self-destructive, for, one feeling being as 
real as another, it leaves no room for that distinction between 
the real and fantastic, to the uncritical sense of which it owes 
its birth. To avoid this fusion of dream-land and the 
waking world, Locke avails himself of the distinction between 
the idea (Le. feeling) as in the mind, which is not convertible 
with reality, and the idea as somewhere else, no one can say 
where — * the actual sensation ' — ^which is so convertible. The 
distinction, however, must either consist in degrees of liveli* 
ness, in which case there must be a corresponding infinity of 
degrees of reality or unreality, or else must presuppose a 




of real 

to one, it ib 
a collec- 
tion of 
ideas M 
qualities of 
A thing: 

real existence from which the feeling, if ' actual Rensation/ 
i» — ^if merely * in the mind ' is no^— derived. Such a real 
existence either is an object of consciousness, or is not. If 
it is not, no distinction between one kind of feeling and 
another can for consciousness be derived from it. If it is, 
then, granted the distinction between given feelings and 
creations of the mind, it must fall to the latter, and a ^ thing 
of the mind ' turns out to be the ground upon which ' fact ' 
is opposed to * things of the mind.' 

88. It remains to exhibit briefly the disguises under which 
these inherent difficulties of his theory of essence appear in 
Locke. Throughout, instead of treating * essence ' altogether 
as a fiction of the mind — as it must be if feelings in sim- 
plicity and singleness are alone the real — ^he treats indeed as 
a merely ' nominal essence ' every possible combination of 
ideas of which we can speak, but still supposes another 
essence which is 'real' But a real essence of what? 
Clearly, according to his statements, of the same ^ thing ' of 
which the combination of ideas in the mind is the nominal 
essence. Indeed, there is no meaning in the antithesis un- 
less the * something,' of which the latter essence is so 
nominally, is that of which it is not so really. So says Locke, 
* the nominal essence of gold is that complex idea the word 
gold stands for ; let it be, for instance, a body yellow, of a 
certain weight, malleable, fusible, and fixed. But the real 
essence is the constitution of the insensible parts of thai 
body, on which those qualities and all the other properties of 
gold depend.' (Book in. chap. vi. sec. 2.) Here the notion 
clearly is that of one and the same thing, of which we can 
only say that it is a ^ body,* a certain complex of ideas — 
yellowness, fusibility, &c. — is the nominal, a certain consti- 
tution of insensible parts the real, essence. It is on the real 
essence, moreover, that the ideas which constitute the 
nominal depend. Yet while they are known, the real essence 
(as appears from the context) is wholly unknown. In this 
case, it would seem, the cause is not known from its effects. 

89. There are lurking here two opposite views of the rela- 
tion between the nominal essence and the real thing. 
According to one view, which prevails in the later chapters 
of the Second Book and in certain passages of the third, the 
relation between them is that with which we have already 
become fEimiliar in the doctrine of substance — that, namely. 


between ideas as in ns and the same as in the thing. (Book ii. 
chap, xxiii, sees. 9 and 10.) No distinction is made between 
the ^idea in the mind' and the ^actual sensation.' The 
ideas in the mind are also in the thing, and thus are called 
its qualities, though for the most part thej are so onlj 
necondarily, i.e. as effects of other qualities, which, as copied 
directly in our ideas, are called primary, and relatively to 
these effects are called powers. These powers have yet in- 
numerable effects to produce in us which they have not yet 
produced. (Book n. chap. xxxi. sec. 10.) Those which 
have been so &r produced, being gathered up in a complex 
idea to which a name is annexed, form the * nominal essence ' 
of the thing. Some of them are of primary qualities, more 
are of secondaiy. The originals of the former, the powers to 
produce the latter, together with powers to produce an in- 
definite multitude more, will constitute the ^ real essence,* 
which is thus ^ a standard made by nature,' to which the 
nominal essence is opposed merely as the inadequate to the 
adequate. The ideas, that is to say, which are indicated by 
the name of a thing, have been really * found in it ' or * pro- 
duced by it,' but are only a part of those that remain to be 
found in it or produced by it. It is in this sense that Locke 
opposes the adequacy between nominal and real essence in 
the case of mixed modes to their perpetual inadequacy in 
the case of ideas of substances. The combination in the 
one case is artificially made, in the other is found and being 
perpetually enlarged. This he illustrates by imagining the 
processes which led Adam severally to the idea of the mixed 
mode ^jealousy' and that of the substance ^ gold.' In the 
former process Adam * put ideas together only by his own 
imagination, not taken from the existence of anything 

the standard there was of his own making.' In 

the latter, ' he has a standard made by nature ; and there- 
fore being to represent that to himself by the idea he has of 
it, even when it is absent, he puts no simple idea into his 
complex one, but what he has the perception of from the 
thing itself. He takes care that his idea be conformable to 
this archetype.' (Book in. chap. vi. sees. 46, 47.) ' It is 
plain,' however, ^ that the idea made after this fashion by 
this archetype will be always inadequate.' 

90. The nominal essence of a thing, then, according to about nd 
this view, being no other than the * complex idea of a sub- ^^^ ^^ 


there may stance,* is a copy of reality, just as the simple idea is. It is 
kn^r^ * a picture or representation in the mind of a thing that does 
exist by ideas of those qualities that are discoverable in it/ 
(Book II. chap. xxxi. sees. 6, 8.) It only differs from the 
simple idea (which is itself, as abstract, a nominal essence)^ in 
respect of reality, because the latter is a copy or effect pro- 
duced singly and involuntarily, whereas we may put ideas 
together, as if in a thing, which have never been so presented 
together, and, on the other hand, never can put together all 
that exist together. (Book ii. chap. xxx. sec. 5, and xxxi. 10.) 
So far as Locke maintains this view, the difficulty about 
general propositions concerning real existence need not arise. 
A statement which affirmed of gold one of the qualities included 
in the complex idea of that substance, would not express 
merely an analysis of an idea in the mind, but would repre- 
sent a relation of qualities in the existing thing from which 
the idea ^ has been taken.' These qualities, as in the thing, 
doubtless would not be, as in us, feelings (or, as Locke should 
rather have said in more recent phraseology, possibilities of 
feeling), but powers to produce feeling, nor could any rela- 
tion between these, as in the thing, be affirmed but such as 
had produced its copy or effect in actual experience. No 
coexistence of qualities could be truly affirmed, vvhich had 
not been found; but, once found — being a coexistence of 
qualities and not simply a momentary coincidence of feel- 
ings — it could be affirmed as permanent in a general pro- 
position. That a relation can be stated universally between 
ideas collected in the mind, no one denies, and if such 
collection 'is taken from a combination of simple ideas 
existing together constantly in things ' (Book ii. chap, xxxii. 
sec. 18), the statement will hold equally of such existence. 
Thus Locke contrasts mixed modes, which, for the most 
pari, ' being actions which perish in the birth, are not 
capable of a lasting duration,' with ' substances, which are 
the actors; and wherein the simple ideas that make up 
the complex ideas designed by the name have a lasting 
union.' (Book lu. chap. vi. sec. 42.) 

91. In such a doctrine Locke, starting whence he did, 
could not remain at rest. We need not here repeat what has 
been said of it above in the consideration of his doctrine of 
substance. Taken strictly, it implies that ' real existence ' 

■ Book II. chap. zxzi. sec. 12. 


oonsistfl in a permanent relation of ideas, said to be of 5]jj"*** 
secondary qnalities, to each other in dependence on other egg^^^ ^ 
ideas, said to be of primary qualities. In other words, in order creature of 
to constitnte reality, it takes ideas out of that particularity ^^"^^^ 
in time and place, which is yet pronounced the condition of 
reality, to give them an * abstract generality* which is 
fictitious, and then treats them as constituents of a system 
of which the * invented * relations of cause and effect and of 
identity are the framework. In short, it brings reality 
wholly within the region of thought, distinguishing it from 
the system of complex ideas or nominal essences which con- 
stitute our knowledge, not as the unknown opposite of all 
possible thought, but only as the complete fix>m the incom- 
plete. To one who logically carried out this view, the 
ground of distinction between fact and fancy would have to 
be found in the relation between thought as * objective,' or 
in the world, and thought as so far communicated to us. 
Here, however, it could scarcely be found by Locke, with 
whom * thought ' meant simply a faculty of the * thinking 
thing,' called a ' soul,' which might ride in a coach with 
him fix>m Oxford to London. (Book n. chap, xxiii. sec. 20.) 
Was the distinction then to disappear altogether 9 

92. It is saved, though at the cost of abandoning the ^ new Hence 
way of ideas,' as it had been followed in the Second Book, another 
by the transfer of real existence from the thing in which j^i 
ideas are found, and whose qualities the complex of ideas esBence ua 
ID us, though inadequate, represents, to something called q^aiitie^of 
' body,' necessarily unknown, because no ideeis in us are in unknown 
any way representative of it. To such an unknown body ^' 
unknown qualities are supposed to belong under the designa- 
tion * real essence.' The subject of the nominal essence, just 
because its qualities, being matter of knowledge, are ideas 

in our minds, is a wholly different and a fictitious thing. 

93. This change of ground is of course not recognized by How Locke 
Locke himself. It is the perpetual crossing of the incon- mixes up 
sistent doctrines that renders his * immortal Third Book ' a meanings 
web of contradictions. As was said above, he constantly inambig- 
speaks as if the subject of the real essence were the same jj^y*^°^' 
with that of the nominal, and never explicitly allows it to 

be different. The equivocation under which the difference 
is disguised lies in the use of the term * body.' A * particular 
body ' is the subject both of the nominal and real essence 


* gold ' But * body/ as that in which * ideas are found,' and 
in which they permanently coexist according to a natural 
law, is one thing ; * body/ as the abstraction of the unknown, 
is quite another. It is body in the former sense that is the 
real thing when nominal essence (the complex of ideas in us) 
is treated as representative, though inadequately so, of the 
real thing ; it is body in the latter sense that is the real 
thing when this is treated as wholly outside possible con- 
sciousness, and its essence as wholly unrepresented by 
possible ideas. By a jumble of the two meanings Locke 
obtains an amphibious entity which is at once independent 
of relation to ideas, as is body in the latter sense, and a 
source of ideas representative of it, as is body in the former 
sense — which thus carries with it that opposition to the 
mental which is supposed necessary to the real, while yet it 
seems to manifest itself in ideas. Meanwhile a third con- 
ception of the real keeps thrusting itself upon the other two 
— the view, namely, that body in both senses is a fiction of 
thought, and that the mere present feeling is alone the real. 
Bodyaa 94. Where Locke is insisting on the opposition between 

iMttOT'^' the real essence and any essence that can be known, the 
without former is generally ascribed either to a * particular being ' or 
^'^^^^ to a ' parcel of matter.' The passage which brings the oppo- 
sition into the strongest relief is perhaps the following : — * I 
would ask any one, what is sufficient to make an essential 
difference in nature between any two particular beings, 
without any regard had to some abstract idea, which is 
looked upon as the essence and standard of a species 9 All 
such patterns and standards being quite laid aside, particular 
beings, considered barely in themselves, will be found to 
have all their qualities equally essential ; and everything, in 
each individual, will be essential to it, or, which is more, 
nothing at all. For though it may be reasonable to ask 
whether obeying the magnet be essential to iron; yet I 
think it is very improper and insignificant to ask whether it 
be essential to the particular parcel of matter I cut my pen 
with, without considering it under the name irony or as 
being of a certain species.' (Book ui. chap. vi. sec. 5.)' 
Here, it will be seen, the exclusion of the abstract idea fix)m 
reality carries with it the exclusion of that * standard made 

* To the same purpose is « passage in Book m. chap. z. see. 19» towaids thm 
•nd. ^ 


bj nature/ which according to the passages abeady quoted, 
Is the ^ thing itself from which the abstract idea is taken, and 
from which, if correctly taken, it derives reality. This 
exclusion, again, means nothing else than the disappearance 
from 'nature* (which with Locke is interchangeable with 
• reality ') of all essential difference. There remain, however, 
as the ^ real,' * particular beings,' or ' individuals,' or * parcels 
of matter.' In each of these, ' considered barely in itself, 
everything will be essential to it, or, which is more, nothing 
at all.' 

95. We have already seen,' that if by a ^particular being' i^ this 
is meant the mere indivichium, as it would be upon abstrac- f^^ ^^T 
tion of all relations which according to Locke are fictitious, j^ai-^™ 
and constitute a community or generality, it certainly can Tiduiim. 
have no essential qualities, since it has no qualities at all. 
It is a something which equals nothing. The notion of this 
bare iridividwu/rn being the real is the ' protoplasm ' of 
Locke's philosophy, to which, though he never quite recog- 
nized it himself, after the removal of a certain number of 
accretions we may always penetrate. It is so because his 
unacknowledged method of finding the real consisted in 
abstracting from the formed content of consciousness tiU he 
came to that which could not be got rid of. This is the 
momentarily present relation of subject and object, which, 
consideTed on the side of the object, gives the mere atom, 
and on the side of the subject, the mere ' it is felt.' Even in 
this ultimate abstraction the * fiction of thought' still survives, 
for the atom is determined to its mere individuality by 
relation to other individuals, and the feeling is determined 
to the present moment or ' the now ' by relation to other 
* nows.' 

96. To this ultimate abstraction, however, Locke, though sodj m 
constantly on the road to it, never quite penetrates. He is qiwlified 
ftxthest from it — indeed, as far from it as possible — where he stonwe^of ' 
is most acceptable to common sense, as in his ordinary time and 
doctrine of abstraction, where* the real, from which the ^ 
process of abstraction is supposed to begin, is already the 
individual in the fullness of its qualities, James and John, 
this man or this gold« He is nearest to it when the only 
qualification of the ^particular being,' which has to be 
removed by thought in order to its losing it^ reality and 

> See above, paragniph 46. 



Sncli body 
Locke held 
to be sub- 
ject of 
* primary 
qualities ' : 
but are 
these com- 
with par- 
in time ? 

becoming an abstract idea, is supposed to consist in 'circum- 
stances of time and place.' 

97. It is of these circumstances, as the constituents of 
the real, that he is thinking in the passage last quoted. Aa 
qualified by ' circumstances of place ' the real is a parcel of 
matter, and under this designation Locke thought of it as a 
subject of * primary qualities of body.' * These, indeed, as he 
enumerates them, may be shown to imply relations going far 
beyond that of simple distinctness between atoms, and thus 
to involve much more of the creative action of thought ; but 
we need be the less concerned for this usurpation on the part 
of the particular being, since that which he illegitimately 
conveys to it as derived from * circumstances of place,' he 
virtually takes away from it again by limitation in time. 
The * particular being ' has indeed on the one hand a real 
essence, consisting of certain primary qualities, but on the 
other it has no continued identity. It is only real as present 
to feeling at this or that time. The particular being of one 
moment is not the particular being of the next. Thus the 
primary qualities which are a real essence, i.e. an essence of 
a particular being, at one moment, are not its real essence at 
the next, because, while they as represented in the mind 
remain the same, the * it,' the particular being is difiPerent. 
An immutable essence for that very reason cannot be real. 
The immutability can only lie in a relation between a certain 
abstract (i.e. unreal) idea and a certain sound. (Book iii. 
chap. iii. sec. 19.) *The real constitution of things,' on the 
other hand, * begin and perish with them. All things that 
exist are liable to change.' {Ihid.) Locke, it is true (as is 
implied in the term change^) never quite drops the notion of 
there being a real identity in some unknown background, but 
this makes no difference in the bearing of his doctrine upon 
the possibility of * real ' knowledge. It only means that for 
an indefinite particularity of * beings ' there is substituted one 
* being ' under an indefinite peculiarity of forms. Though the 
reality of the thing in itself be immutable, yet its reality /or 

we may talk of the • matter of bodies,' 
but not of the * body of matters.' But 
since solidity, according to Locke's 
definition, involree the other * primary 
qualities.' this distinction does not avail 
him much. 
* See above, paragraph 69. 

* According to Locke's ordinary usage 
of the terms, no distinction appears be- 
twet'n 'matter' and 'body.' In Book 
III. chap. X. sec. 16, however, he dis- 
tiifguishes matter irom body as the less 
determinate conception from the more. 
The one implies solidity merely, the 
other extension and figure also, so that 


fM is in perpetaal flux. * In itself' it is a substance without 
an ^sence, a * something we know not what ' without any 
ideas to ' support ; ' a ' parcel of matter/ indeed, but one in 
which no quality is really essential, because ifcs real essence, 
consisting in its momentary presentation to sense, changes 
with the moments.' 

98, We have previously noticed* Locke's pregnant remark, HowLock« 
that * things whose existence is in succession* do not admit q^^on/* 
of identity. (Book u. chap, xxvii. sec. 2.) So far, then, as 
the ' real,' in distinction from the ^ abstract,' is constituted 
by particularity in time, or has its existence in succession, it 
excludes the relation of identity. *It perishes in every 
moment that it begins.' Had Locke been master of this 
notion, instead of being irregularly mastered by it, he might 
have anticipated all that Hume had to say. As it is, even in 
passages such as those to which reference has just been 
made, where he follows it^ lead the farthest, he is still pulled 
up by inconsistent conceptions with which common sense, 
acting through common language, restrains the most adven- 
turous philosophy. Thus, even from his illustration of the 
liability of all existence to change — * that which was grass 
to-day is to-morrow the flesh of a sheep, and within a few 
days after will become part of a man '• — we find that, just as 
he does not pursue the individualization of the real in space 
BO far but that it still remains ' a constitution of parts,' so he 
does not pursue it in time so far but that a coexistence of real 
elements over a certain duration is possible. To a more 
thorough analysis, indeed, there is no alternative between 
finding reality in relations of thought, which, because rela- 
tions of thought, are not in time and therefore are immutable, 
and submitting it to such subdivision of time as excludes all 
real coexistence because what is real, as present, at one 
moment is unreal, as past, at the next. This alternative 
could not present itself in its clearness to Locke, because, 
according to his method of interrogating consciousness, he 
inevitably found in its supposed beginning, which he identified 
with the real, those products of thought which he opposed to 
the real, and thus read into the simple feeling of the moment 
that which, if it were the simple feeling of the moment, it 

> Cf. Book m. chap. vi. sec 4: *Take thought of anything essential to any of 

hot awsj the abstract ideas by which them instantly yanishes/ &c. 
ve sort indiridoals and rank them * See above, paragraph 76. 

under oommon names, and then the * Book in. chap. iii. sec. 10. 



could not contain. Thus throughout the Second Book of the 
Essay the simple idea is supposed to represent either as copy 
or as effect a permanent reality, whether body or mind : and 
in the later books, even where the represer^tation of such 
reality in knowledge comes in question, its existence as con- 
stituted by * primary qualities of body' is throughout assumed, 
though general propositions with regard to it are declared 
impossible. It is a feeling referred to body, or, in the 
language of subsequent psychology, a feeling of the outward 
sonse,^ that Locke means by an ' actual present sensation,' 
and it is properly in virtue of this reference that such sensa- 
tion is supposed to be, or to report, the real. 
Body and 99- According to the doctrine of primary qualities, as ori- 
itg quuU- ginally stated, the antithesis lies between body as it is in 
posed^^be i^clf and body as it is for us, not between body as it is for 
outside us in * actual sensation,' and body as it is for us according to 
* ideas in the mind.' The primary qualities *are in bodies 
whether we perceive them or no.' (Book ii. chap. viii. sec. 
23.) As he puts it elsewhere (Book ii. chap. xxxi. sec. 2), it 
is just because ^ solidity and extension and the termination 
of it, figure, with motion and rest, whereof we have the ideas, 
would be really in the world as they are whether there were 
any sensible being to perceive them or no,' that they are to 
be looked on as the real modifications of matter. A change 
in them, unlike one in the secondary qualities, or such as is 
relative to sense, is a real alteration in body. * Pound an 
almond, and the clear white colour will be altered into a dirty 
one, and the sweet taste into an oily one. What alteration 
can the beating of the pestle make in any body, but an altera- 
tion of the texture of itP ' (Book ii. chap. viii. sec. 20.) It 
is implied then in the notion of the real as body that it should 
be outside consciousness. It is that which seems to remain 
when everything belonging to consciousness has been thought 

' For the germs of the distinction be- and warmth, which he supposes chil« 

tween outer and inner sense, see Locke's dren to receive in the womb from the 

Essay, Book n. chap. i. sec. 14: 'This 'innate principles which some contend 

source of ideas (the perception of the for.' ' These (the ideas of hunger and 

operations of the mind) eveiy man has waimth) being the effects of sensation, 

wholly in himself; and though it be not are only from some affections of the 

sense, as having nothing to do with bodv which happen to them there, and 

external objects, yet it is very like it, so depend on something exterior to the 

and might properly enough be called mind, not otherwise differing in their 

internal sense.' For the notion of outer manner of production from other ideas 

sense Cf. Book n. chap. ix. sec. 6, where derived from sense, but only in the pre- 

he is distinguishing the ideas of hunger cedency of time.' 


awaj* Yet it is brought within consciousness again by the 
supposition that it has qualities which copy themselves in 
oar ideas and are *• the exciting causes of all our various 
sensations from bodies.' (Book ii. chap. xxxi. sec. 3.) Again, 
however, the antithesis between the real and consciousness 
prevailB, and the qualities of matter or body having been 
brought within the latter, are opposed to a ^substance of 
body ' — otherwise spoken of as * the nature, cause, or manner 
of producing the ideas of primary qualities ' — which remains 
outside it, unknown and unknowable. (Book ii. chap, xxiii. 
sec. 30, Ac.) 

100. The doctrine of primary qualities was naturally the How can 
one upon which the criticism of Berkeley and Hume first primMy 
fastened, as the most obvious aberration from the * new way be oui^BTdf 
of ideas.' That the very notion of the senses as * reporting * coneciouj. 
anything, under secondary no less than under primary quali- yetknoir- 
ties, implies the presence of ^fictions of thought' in the able? 
primitive consciousness, may become clear upon analysis; 

but it lies on the surface and is avowed by Locke himself 
(Book II. chap. viii. sees. 2, 7), that the conception of primary 
qualities is only possible upon distinction being made between 
ideas as in our minds, and the ^ nature of things existing 
without us,' which cannot be given in the simple feeling 
itself. This admitted, the distinction might either be traced 
to the presence within intelligent consciousness of another 
factor than simple ideas, or be accounted for as a gradual 
* invention of the mind.' In neither way, however, could 
Locke regard it and yet retain his distinction between fact 
and fftncy, as resting upon that between the nature of things 
and the mind of man. The way of escape lay in a figure of 
speech, the figure of the wax or the mirror. * The ideas of 
primary qualities are resemblances of them.* (Book ii. chap, 
viii. sec. 15.) These qualities then may be treated, according 
to occasion, either as primitive data of consciousness, or as 
the essence of that which is the unknown opposite of con- 
sciousness — in the latter way when the antithesis between 
nature and mind is in view, in the former when nature has 
yet to be represented as knowable. 

101. How, asked Berkeley, can an idea be like anything Locke 
that is not an idea? Put the question in its proper strength ^^^ 
—How can an idea be like that of which the sole and simple copjtheLi 
determination is just that it is not an idea (and such with ^e^^M »» 

VOL. I. G 


ideas— ^ Locke is body *in itself or as the real) — and it is clearly 
fejo^ndif unanswerable. The process by which Locke was prevented 
Locke gets from putting it to himself is not difficult to trace. * Body * 
d?fficulty^ and *the solid' are with him virtually convertible terms, 
by his Each indiflFerently holds the place of the substance^ of which 
^*H^t^**^^ the primary qualities are so many determinations.^ It is 
true that where solidity has to be defined, it is defined as an 
attribute of body, but conversely body itself is treated as a 

* texture of solid parts,' i.e. as a mode of the solid. Body, in 
short, so soon as thought of, resolves itself into a relation of 
bodies, and the solid into a relation of solids, but Locke, by 
a shuffle of the two terms — representing body as a relation 
between solids and the solid as a relation between bodies — 
gains the appearance of explaining each in turn by relation 
to a simpler idea. Body, as the unknown, is revealed to us 
by the idea of solidity, which sense conveys to us; while 
solidity is explained by reference to the idea of body. The 
idea of solidity, we are told, is a simple idea which comes into 
the mind solely by the sense of touch. (Book n. chap. iii. 
sec. 1.) But no sooner has he thus identified it with an im- 
mediate feeHng than, in disregard of his own doctrine, that 

* an idea which has no composition ' is undefinable," he con- 
verts it into a theory of the cause of that feeling. ^ It arises 
from the resistance which we find in body to the entrance of 
any other body into the place it possesses till it has left it ; ' 
and he at once proceeds to treat it as the consciousness of 
such resistance. * Whether we move or rest, in what posture 
soever we are, we always feel something under us that sup- 
ports us, and hinders our farther sinking downwards : and 
the bodies which we daily handle make us perceive that 
whilst they remain between them, they do by an insurmount- 
able force hinder the approach of the parts of our hands that 
press them. That which then hinders the approach of two 
bodies, when they are moviug one towards another, I call 
solidity.' (Book ii. chap. iv. sec 1.) 

in which 102. Now * body ' in this theory is by no means outside 

^^tes b^I-**' consciousness. It is emphatically *in the mind,' a * nominal 
hreenbody essence,' determined by the relation which the tiieory assigns 

> See Book n. chap. viii. sec. 23 : The is so inseparable an idea from body, that 

primary * qualities that are in bodies, upon that depends its filling of space, 

are the bulk, figure, number, situation, its contact, impulse, and communica- 

and motion or rest, oj Chdr solid parts* tion of motion upon impulse.* 

Cf. Book II. chap. xiii. sec. 11 : 'Solidity ■ See Book in. chap. iv. sec. 7. 


to it, and which, like every relation according to Locke, is a m un- 
* thing of the mind/ This relation is that of outwardness to op^Bite of 
other bodies, and among these to the sensitive body through mind and 
which we receive * ideas of sensation ' — a body which, on its l^J^i^j^* 
side, as determined by the relation, has its essence from the essence 
mind. It is, then, not as the unknown opposite of the mind, 
but as determined by an intelligible relation which the mind 
constitutes, and of which the members are each * nominal 
essences,' that body is outward to the sensitive subject. But 
to Locke, substituting for body as a nominal essence body as 
the unknown thing in itself, and identifying the sensitive sub- 
ject with the mind, outwardness in the above sense-^an out- 
wardness constituted by the mind —becomes outwardness to 
the mind of an unknown opposite of the mind. Solidity, 
then, and the properties which its definition involves (and it 
involves all the 'primary qualities'), become something 
wholly alien to the mind, which * would exist without any 
sensible being to perceive them.' As such, they do duty as 
a real essence, when the opposition of this to everything in 
the mind has to be asserted. Tet must they be in some sort 
ideas, for of these alone (as Locke folly admits) can we think 
and speak; and if ideas, in the mind. How is this contra- 
diction to be overcome 9 By the notion that though not in 
or of the mind, they yet copy themselves upon it in virtue of 
an impulse in body, correlative to that resistance of which 
touch conveys the idea. (Book ii. chap. viii. sec. 11).* This 
explanation, however, is derived from the equivocation be- 
tween the two meanings of mind and body respectively. The 
problem to be explained is the relation between the mind 
and that which is only qualified as the negation of mind ; 
and the explanation is found in a relation, only existing for 
the mind, between a sensitive and a non-sensitive body. 

103. The case then stands as follows. All that Locke says Hationaie 
of body as the real thing-in-itself, and of its qualities as the ^^^^. 
essence of such thing, comes according to his own showing ti^ 
of an action of the mind which he reckons the source of 
fictions. * Body in itself' is a substratum of ideas which the 
mind ' accustoms itself to suppose,' It perpetually recedes, 
as what was at first a substance becomes in turn a complex 
of qualities for which a more remote substratum has to be 

* Of. also the passage from Book ii. chap. ziii. sec. 11, quoted aboTS^ p. 82, 
note 1. 

o 2 


Bupposed— a * substance of body,' a productive cause of 
matter. But the substance, however remote, is determined 
by the qualities to which it is correlative, as the cause by its 
effects ; and every one of these — ^whether the most primary, 
solidity, or those which ^ the mind finds inseparable from 
every particle of matter,' i.e. from tlie * solid parts of a body,'* 
— as defined by Locke, is a relation such as the mind, ' bring- 
ing one thing to and setting it by another ' (Book ii. chap. 
XXV. sec. 1), can alone constitute. To Locke, however, over-- 
come by the necessity of intelligence, as gradually developing 
itself in each of us, to regard the intelligible world as there 
before it is known, the real must be something which would 
be what it is if thought were not. Strictly taken, this must 
mean that it is that of which nothing can be said, and some 
expression must be found by means of which it may do double 
duty as at once apart from consciousness and in it. This is 
done by converting the primary qualities of body, though 
obviously complex ideas of relation, into simple feelings of 
touch,* and supposing the subject of this sensation to be 
related to its object as wax to the seal. K we suppose this 
relation, again, which is really within the mind and consti- 
tuted by it, to be one between the mind itself, as passive, and 
the real, we obtain a * real ' which exists apart fi'om the mind, 
yet copies itself upon it. The mind, then, so far as it takes 
such a copy, becomes an * outer sense,' as to which it may be 
conveniently forgotten that it is a mode of mind at all. Thus 
every modification of it, as an ^actual present sensation,' 
comes to be opposed to every idea of memory or imagination, 
as that which is not of the mind to that which is ; though 
there is no assignable difierence between one and the other, 
except an indefinite one in degree of vivacity, that is not de- 
rived from the action of the mind in referring the one to an ob- 
ject, constituted by itself, to which it does not refer the other. 
What 104. Let us now consider whether by this reference to 

knowledge body, feeling becomes any the more a source of general know- 
ing, even ledge concerning matters of fact. As we have seen, if we 

to a* solid' * ^' ^^^ "• *^^*P- ^"* "^- ®- '^^® * ^ ^'^^ advisedly * touch* only, not 

body con- P^*™*'y qualities of body are * such as * sight and touch,* beitiuifie, though 

^^_ P ' sense constantly finds in eveiy particle Locke (Book ii. chap, v.) speaks of the 

^ of matter, which has bulk enough to be ideas of extension, figure, motion, and 

perceived, and the mind finds insepar- rest of bodies, as received both by sight 

able from every particle of matter, and touch, these are all involved in the 

though less than to make itself singly previous definition of solidity, of which 

be porcoived by our senses.' the idea is ascribed to touch only. 


identify the real with feeling simply, its distinction from ^ bare 
vision ' disappears. This difficulty it is sought to overcome 
by distinguishing feeling as merely in the mind from actually 
present sensation. But on reflection we find that sensation 
after all is feeling, and that one feeling is as much present as 
another, though present only to become at the next moment 
past, and thus, if it is the presence that is the condition of 
reality, unreal. The distinction then must lie in the acttuility 
of the sensation. But does not this actuality mean simply 
derivation from the real, i.e. derivation from the idea which 
has to be derived from it ? If, in the spirit of Locke, we 
answer, * No, it means that the feeling belongs to the outer 
sense ' ; the rejoinder will be that this means either that it 
is a feeling of touch — ^and what should give the feeling of 
touch this singular privilege over other feelings of not being 
in the mind while they are in it ? — or that it is a feeling re- 
ferred to body, which still implies the presupposition of the 
real, onlyunder the special relations of resistance and im- 
pulse. The latter alternative is the one which Locke virtu- 
ally adopts, and in adopting it he makes the actuality, by 
which sensation is distinguished from ^ feelings in the mind,' 
itself a creation of the mrod. But though it is by an intel- 
lectual interpretation of the feeling of touch, not by the feel- 
ing itself, that there is given that idea of body, by reference 
to which actual sensation is distinguished fi*om the mere idea, 
still vrith Locke the feeling of touch is necessary to the in- 
terpretation. Thus, supposing his notion to be carried out 
consistently, the actual present sensation, as reporting the 
real, must either be a feeling of touch, or, if of another sort, 
e.g., sight or hearing, must be referable to an object of touch. 
In other words, the real will exist for us so long only as it is 
touched, and ideas in us vrill constitute a real essence so long 
only as they may be referred to an object now touched. Let 
the object cease to be touched, and the ideas become a 
nominal essence in the mind, the knowledge which they con- 
stitute ceases to be real, and the proposition which expresses 
it ceases to concern matter of fact. Truth as to matters of 
&ct or bodies, then, must be confined to singular propositions 
such as * this is touched now,' * that was touched then ;' *what 
is touched now is bitter,' * what was then touched was red.*' 

* ThQB the oooriction that an objeet by 'putting the hand to it' (Book nr. 
Mm if not 'bare fancy/ which is gained chap. xi. sec. 17)« as it conreys the idea 


Only the 106. All that is gained, then, by the conversion of the 
thr^B^^ feeling of touch, pure and simple, into the idea of a body 
thing is, touched, is the supposition that there is a real existenci^ 
not what which docs not come and go with the sensations. As to wfuU 
this existence is, as to its real essence, we can have no know- 
ledge but such as is given in a present sensation.^ Any es- 
sence of it, otherwise known, could only be a nominal essence, 
a relation of ideas in our minds : it would lack the condition 
in virtue of which alone a datum of consciousness can claim 
to be representative of reality, that of being an impression 
made by a body now operating upon us. (Book in. chap. v. 
sec. 2, and Book iv. chap. xi. sec. 1.) The memory of such 
impression, however faithful, will still only report a past 
reality. It will itself be merely *an idea in the mind.* 
Neither it nor its relation to any present sensation resolt from 
the immediate impact of body, and in consequence neither 
^ really exists.^ All that can be known, then, of the real, in 
other words, the whole real essence of body, as it is for us, 
reduces itself to that which can at any moment be * revealed ' 
in a single sensation apart fi^m all relation to past sensations ; 
and this, as we have seen, is nothing at all. 
How it is 106. Thus that reduction of reality to that of which noth- 
real ^^^ ^^ ^^° ^ ®^^^> which foUows from its identification with 
essence of particularity in time, follows equally from its identification 
'^rd^* to^ ^^^ ^® resistance of body, or (which comes to the same) 
^cke, from the notion of an ^ outer sense ' being its organ ; since it 
P^rJBhes ig only that which now resists, not a general possibility of re- 
yet is im- ' sistance nor a relation between the resistances of different 
mutable, times, that can be regarded as outside the mind. In Jjocke's 
language, it is only a particular parcel of matter that can be 
so regarded. Of such a parcel, as he rightly says, it is absurd 
to ask what is its essence, for it can have none at all. (See 
above, paragraph 94.) As real, it has no quality save that of 
being a body or of being now touched — a quality, which as 
all things real have it and have none other, cannot be a 
differentia of it. When we consider that this quality may be 

of solidity, is properly, according to suppose their being, without precisely 

Locke's doctrine, not one among other knowing what they are.' The appear- 

' confirmations of Uie testimony of the ance of the qualification ' precisely,' aa 

senses,' but the source of all such testi- we shall see below, marks an oscillation 

mony, as a testimony to the real, i.e. ftom the view, according to which *real 

to body. See above, paragraph 62. essence' is the negation of the know- 

' Cf. Book III. chap. vi. sec. 6: 'As to able to the view according to which our 

the real essences of substances, wo only knowledge of it is merely inadequate. 


regarded equally as immutable and as changing from moment 
to moment, we shall see the ground of Locke's contradiction 
of himself in speaking of the real thing sometimes as inde- 
structible, sometimes as in continual dissolution,. 'The real 
constitutions of things begin and perish with them.' (Book 
m. chap. iii. sec. 19.) That is, the thing at one moment 
makes an impact on the sensitive tablet — in the fact that it 
dors so lie at once its existence and its essence — but the next 
moment the impact is over, and with it thing and essence, as 
realy have disappeared. Another impact, and thus another 
thing, has taken its place. But of this the real essence is 
just the same as that of the previous thing, namely, that it 
may be touched, or is solid, or a body, or a parcel of matter ; 
nor can this essence be really lost, since than it there is no ^ 
otitier reality, all difference of essence, as Locke expressly 
says,^ being constituted by abstract ideas and the work of the 
mind. It follows that real change is impossible. A parcel 
of matter at one time is a parcel of matter at all times. Thus 
we have only to forget that the relation of continuity between 
the parcels, not being an idea caused by impact, should pro- 
perly &11 to the unreal— though only on the same principle 
as should that of distinctness between the times — and we find 
the real in a continuity of matter, unchangeable because it 
has no qualities to change. It may seem strange that when 
this notion of the formless continuity of the real being gets 
the better of Locke, a man should be the real being which 
he takes as his instance. ' Nothing I have is essential to me. 
An accident or disease may very much alter my colour or 
shape ; a fever or fall may take away my reason or memory, 
or both ; and an apoplexy leave neither sense nor understand- 
ing, no, nor life.' (Book lii. chap. vi. sec. 4.) But as the 
sequel shows, the man or the ' I ' is here considered simply as 
*a particular corporeal being,' i.e. as the * parcel of matter' 
which alone (according to the doctrine of reality now in 
view) can be the real in man, and upon which all qualities 
are * superinductions of the mind.' ■ 

107. We may now discern the precise point where the Only about 

' Book ni. chap. yi. sec 4: ' Take but quoted: * So that if it be asked, whether 
away the abstract ideas hy which we it be essential to me, or any other par- 
sort individuals, and then the thought dcular corporeal being, to hare reason? 
of anything essential to any of them I say, no ; no more dian it is essential 
instantly yanishes.' to this white thing I write on to have 

' See a few lines below the passage woids in it/ 



Blatter, as 
itself, that 
Locke feels 
ADj diffi- 

These, as 
must be 
our ideas, 
and there- 
fore not a 

qualm as to clothing reality with such superinductions com- 
monly returns upon Locke. The conversion of feeling into 
body felt and of the particular time of the feeling into an 
individuality of the body, and, further, the fusion of the in- 
dividual bodies, manifold as the times of sensation, into one 
continued body, he passes without scruple. So long as these 
are all the traces of mental fiction which * matter,' or * body,' 
or * nature * bears upon it, he regards it undoubtingly as the 
pure * privation ' of whatever belongs to the mind. But so 
soon as cognisable qualities, forming an essence, come to be 
ascribed to body, the reflection arises that these qualities are 
on our side ideas, and that so far as they are permanent or 
continuous they are not ideas of the sort which can alone re- 
present body as the * real ' opposite of mind ; they are not the 
result of momentary impact ; they are not * actually present 
sensations.' Suppose them, however, to have no permanence 
— suppose their reality to be confined to the fleeting * now ' 
— and they are no quaUties, no essence, at all. There is then 
for us no real essence of body or nature ; what we call so is 
a creation of the mind. 

108. This implies the degradation of the * primary quali- 
ties of body ' from the position which they hold in the Second 
Book of the Essay, as the real, par excellence, to that of a 
nominal essence. In the Second Book, just as the complex 
of ideas, received and to be received from a substance, is taken 
for the real thing without disturbance from the antithesis 
between reality and * ideas in the mind,' so the primary qua- 
lities of body are taken not only as real, but as the sources of 
all other reality. Body, the real thing, copying itself upon 
the mind in an idea of sensation (that of solidity), carries 
with it from reality into the mind those qualities which * the 
mind finds inseparable from it,' with all their modes. ^ A 
piece of manna of a sensible bulk is able to produce in us the 
idea of a round or square figure, and, by being removed 
from one place to another, the idea of motion. This idea of 
motion represents it, as it really is in the manna, moving ; a 
circle or square are the same, whether in idea or existence, 
in the mind or in the manna ; and this both motion and figure 
are really in the manna, whether we take notice of them or 
no.' (Book II. chap. viii. sec. 18.) To the unsophisticated 
man, taking for granted that the * sensible bulk ' of the 
manna is a * real essence,' this statement will raise no diflEi- 

_-THE ^ 



cnlties. But when he has leamt from Locke himself that the 
^ sensible bulk,' so far as we can think and speak of it, must 
consist in the ideas which it is said to produce, the question 
as to the real existence of these must arise. It turns out 
that they * really exist,' so far as they represent the impact 
of a body copying itself in actually present sensation, and 
that from their reality, accordingly, must be excluded all 
qualities that accrue to the present sensation from its rela- 
tion to the past. Can the 'primary qualities' escape this 
exclusion ? 

109. To obtain a direct and compendious answer to this Are the 
question from Locke's own mouth is not easy, owing to the IJ^itS^ 
want of adjustment between the several passages where he then, a 
treats of the primary qualities. They are originally enume- ^^^p 
rated as the ' bulk, figure, number, situation, and motion or 

rest of the solid parts of bodies * (Book ii. chap. viii. sec. 23), 
and, as we have seen, are treated as all inyolved in that idea 
of solidity which is given in the sensation of touch. We 
have no further account of them till we come to the chap- 
ters on * simple modes of space and duration' (Book n. 
chaps, xiii. &c.), which are introdfted by the remark, that in 
the previous part of the book simple ideas have been treated 
* rather in the way that they come into the mind than as 
distinguished from others more compounded.' As the simple 
idea, according to Locke, is that which comes first into the 
mind, the two ways of treatment ought to coincide; but 
there follows an explanation of the simple modes in question, 
of which to a critical reader the plain result is that the idea 
of body, which, according to the imaginary theory of * the 
way that it came into the mind ' is simple and equivalent to 
the sensation of touch, turns out to be a complex of relations 
of which the simplest is called space. 

110. To know what space itself is, * we are sent to our Aocoiding 
senses ' of sight and touch. It is * as needless to go to prove J^J^^*" 
that men perceive by their sight a distance between bodies they are 
of difierent colours, or between the parts of the same body, ^^^°g 
as that they see colours themselves ; nor is it less obvious inTentions 
that they can do so in the dark by feeling and touch.' ^^.^* 
(Book u. chap. xiii. sec. 2.) Space being thus explained 

by reference to distance, and distance between bodiesy it might 
be supposed that distance and body were simpler ideas. In 
the next paragraph, however, distance is itself explained to 


be a mode of space. It is * space considered barely in length 
between any two beings/ and is distinguished (a) from 
^ capacity ' or ' space considered in length, breadth, and 
thickness ; ' (6) from * figure, which is nothing but the rela- 
tion which the parts of the termination of extension, or cir- 
cumscribed space, have among themselves ; ' (c) from ^ place, 
which is the relation of distance between anything and any 
two or more points which are considered as keeping the 
same distance one with another, and so as at rest.' It is then 
shown at large (Book n. chap. xiii. sec. 11), as against the 
Cartesians, that extension, which is * space in whatsoever 
manner considered,' is a * distinct idea from body.' The 
ground of the distinction plainly lies in the greater com- 
plexity of the idea of body. Throughout the definition just 
given ' space ' is presupposed as the simpler idea of which 
capacity, figure, and place are severally modifications ; and 
these again, as 'primary qualities,' though with a slight 
difference of designation,^ are not only all declared inseparable 
from body, but are involved in it under a further modification 
as ' gualities of its solid 'parts^^ i.e., of parts so related to each 
other that each will change its place sooner than admit 
another into it. (Book n. chap. iv. sec. 2, and chap. viii. 
sec. 28.) Yet, though body is thus a complex of relations — 
all, according to Locke's doctrine of relation, inventions of 
the mind — ^and though it mast be proportionately remote 
from the simple idea which ' copies first into the mind,' yet, 
on the other hand, it is in body, as an object previously 
given, that these relations are said to be found, and found 
by the senses. (Book ii. chap. xiii. sees. 2, 27.)* 
Body is HI- It wiU readily be seen that * body ' here is a mode of 

the com- the idea of substance, and, like it,* appears in two incon- 
whichthey sisteut positions as at once the beginning and the end of the 
are found, process of knowledge — as on the one hand that in which 
ideals af e found and from which they are abstracted, and on 
the otheiv hand that which results from their complication. 
As the attempt either to treat particular qualities as given 
jand substance as an abstraction gradually made, or con- 
versely to treat the ' thing ' as given, and relations as 
gradually superinduced, necessarily fails for the simple reason 

* In the enumeration of ptrimary ferred to, it will be seen that ' matter * 

qualities, ' capacity ' is represented by is used interchangeably with * body.' 
* bulk/ ' place ' by ' situation.' " See aboTe, paragraph 39. 

' In the second of the passages re- 


that substance and relations each presuppose the other, so Bo we 
body presupposes the primary qualities as so many relations derive th© 
which form its essence or make it what it is, while these body from 
again presuppose body as the matter which they determine. pnmAyy 
It is because Locke substitutes for this intellectual order of or^e^^^' 
mutual presupposition a succession of sensations in time, that primary 
he finds himself in the confusion we have noticed — now from idea 
giving the priority to sensations in which the idea of body of body? 
is supposed to be conveyed, and from it deriving the ideas of 
the primary qualities, now giving it to these ideas themselves, 
and deriving the idea of body from their complication. This 
is just such a contradiction as it would be to put to-day 
before yesterday. We may escape it by the consideration 
that in the case before us it is not a succession of sensations 
in time that we have to do with at all ; that ^ the real ^ is an 
intellectual order, or mind, in which every element, being 
correlative to every other, at once presupposes and is pre- 
supposed by every other ; but that this order communicates 
itself to us piecemeal, in a process of which the first con- 
dition on oTur part is the conception that there is an order, 
or something related to something else ; and that thus the 
conception of qualified substance, which in its definite arti- 
culation is the end of all oiur knowledge, is yet in another 
form, that may be called indifiEerently either abstract or con- 
fused,^ its beginning. This way of escape, however, was not 
open to Locke, because with him it was the condition of 
realiiy in the idea of the body and its qualities that they 
should be * actually present sensations.' The priority then 
of body to the relations of extension, distance, &c., as of 
that in which these relations are found, must, if body and 
extension are to be more than nominal essences, be a priority 
of sensations in time. But, on the other hand, the priority 
of the idea of space to the ideas of its several modes, and 
of these again to the idea of body, as of the simple^ to the 
more complex, must no less than the other, if thjB ideas in 
question are to be real, be one in time. Locke's contra- 
diction, then, is that of supposing that of two sensations 
each is actually present, of two impacts on the sensitive 
tablet each is actually made, before the other. 

112. From such a contradiction, even though he was not 

' * IndiiTereiitly either abstract or that is most confused the least can bf 
eonfiued,' becanse of the conception said ; and it is thus most abstract. 


Hatha- distinctly aware of it, he could not but seek a way of escape, 
id^?^ From his point of view two ways might at first sight seem 
though to be open — the priority in sensitive experience, and with it 
• primMT r®^li*y» might be assigned exclusively either to the idea of 
qualities of body or to that of space. To whichever of the two it is 
•'l^'l^^an ^s^S°^^» ^® other must become a nominal essence. If it 
ideal ex- is the idea of body that is conveyed to the mind directly 
istenoe.' from without through sensation, then it must be by a pro- 
cess in the mind that the spatial relations are abstracted 
from it ; and conversely, if it is the latter that are given in 
sensation, it must be by a mental operation of compounding 
that the idea of body is obtained from them. Now, accord- 
ing to Locke's fundamental notion, that the reality of an 
idea depends upon its being in consciousness a copy through 
impact of that which is not in consciousness, any attempt to 
retain it in the idea of space while sacrificing it in that of 
body would be obviously self-destructive. Nor, however we 
might re-write his account of the relations of space as * found 
in bodies,' could we avoid speaking of them as relations of 
some sort ; and if relations, then derived jBrom the * mind's 
carrying its view from one thing to another,' and not 
* actually present sensations.' We shall not, then, be sur- 
prised to find Locke tending to the other alternative, and 
gradually forgetting his assertion that ^ a circle or a square 
are the same whether in idea or in existence,' and his 
elaborate maintenance of the * real existence ' of a vacuum, 
i.e., extension without body. (Book ii. chap. xiii. sees. 21 
and the following, and xvii. 4.) In the Fourth Book it is 
body aloud that has real existence, an existence revealed 
by actually present sensation, while all mathematical ideas, 
the ideas of the circle and the square, have ^ barely an ideal 
existence ' (Book iv. chap. iv. sec. 6) ; and this means nothing 
else than the reduction of the primary qualities of body to a 
nominal essence. Our iSeas of them are general (Book iv. 
chap. iii. sec. 24), or merely in the mind. * There is no in- 
dividual parcel of matter, to which any of these qualities 
are so annexed as to be essential to it or inseparable from it.' 
(Book in. chap. vi. sec. 6.) How should there be, when the 
^ individual parcel ' means that which copies itself by impact 
in the present sensation, while the qualities in question are 
relations which cannot be so copied P Yet, except as attach- 
ing to such a parcel, they have no * real existence ; ' and, 


conversely, tlie * body,' from which they arre inseparable, not 
being an individnal parcel of matter in the above sense, 
innst itself be nnreal and belong merely to the mind. The 
* body * which is rfial has for ns no qualities, and that reference 
to it of the * actually present sensation * by which such sen- 
sation is distinguished from other feeling, is a reference to 
something of which nothing can be said. It is a reference 
which cannot be stated in any proposition really true ; and 
the difference which it constitutes between * bare vision ' and 
the feeling to which reality corresponds, must be either 
itself unreal or unintelligible. 

118. We have now pursued the antithesis between reality Summary 
and the work of the mind along all the lines which Locke 1]^°^ 
indicates, and find that it everywhere eludes us. The dis- difficulties 
tinction, which only appeared incidentally in the doctrine of ^^ ^f^*^, 
substance, between *the being and the idea thereof — be- 
tween substance as ^ found' and substance as that which 
*we accustom ourselves to suppose'— becomes definite and 
explicit as that between real and nominal essence, but it 
does so only that the essence, which is merely real, may dis- 
appear. Whether we suppose it the quality of a mere 
sensation, as such, or of mere body, as such, we find that 
we are unawares defining it by relations which are them- 
selves the work of the mind, and that after abstraction of 
these nothing remains to give the antithesis to the work of 
the mind any meaning. Meanwhile the attitude of thought, 
when it has cleared the antithesis of disguise, but has not 
yet found that each of the opposites derives itself from 
thought as much as the other, is so awkward and painful 
that an instinctive reluctance to make the clearance is not 
to be wondered at. Over against the world of knowledge, 
which is the work of the mind, stands a real world of which 
we can say nothing but that it is there, that it makes us 
aware of its presence in every sensation, while our inter- 
pretation of what it is, the system of relations which we 
read into it, is our own invention. The interpretation is not 
even to be called a shadow, for a shadow, however dim, still 
reflects the reality ; it is an arbitrary fiction, and a fiction 
of which the possibility is as unaccountable as the induce- 
ment to make it. It is commonly presented as consisting in 
abstraction fromi the concrete. But the concrete, just so Smp 
as concrete, i.e., a complex world of relations, cannot be the 


real if the separation of the real from the work of the mind 
is to be maintained. It must itself be the work of the com- 
pounding mind, which mast be supposed again in ' abstrac- 
tion' to decompose what it has previonslj compounded. 
~"ow, it is of the essence of the doctrine in question that it 
denies all power of origination to the mind except in the way 
of compounding and abstracting given impressions. Its 
supposition is, that whatever precedes the work of compo- 
sition and abstraction must be real^ because the mind 
passively receives it : a supposition which, if the mind could 
originate, would not hold. How, then, does it come to pass 
that a ' nominal essence,' consisting of definite qualities, is 
constructed by a mind, which originates nothing, out of a 
* real ' matter, which, apart from such construction, has no 
qualities at aU ? And why, granted the construction, should 
the mind in ' abstraction ' go through the Penelopean exer- 
cise of perpetually unweaving the web which it has just 

Why they 114. It is Hume's more logical version of Locke's doctrine 
^o ^^^ that first forces these questions to the firont. In Locke him- 
h^ more. Self they are kept back by inconsistencies, which we have 
already dwelt upon. For the real, absolutely void of intel- 
ligible qualities, because these are relative to the mind, 
he is perpetually substituting a real constituted by such 
qualities, only with a complexity which we cannot exhaust* 
By so doing, though at the cost of sacrificing the opposition 
between the real and the mental, he avoids the necessity of 
admitting that the system of the sciences is a mere language^ 
well— or ill — constructed, but unaccountably and without 
reference to things. Finally, he so far forgets the opposition to find the reality of ' moral and mathematical ' 
knowledge in their * bare ideality ' itself. (Book iv. chap. iv. 
sec. 6, &c.) Thus with him the divorce between knowledge 
and reality is never complete, and sometimes they appear in 
perfect fusion. A consideration of his doctrine of propo- 
sitions will show finally how the case between them stands, 

^ asjie left it. 

They re- H^' 1^ *^® Fourth Book of the Essay the same ground 
appear in has to be thrice traversed under the several titles of * know- 
trine^ ledge,' * truth,' and * propositions.' Knowledge being the 

propofli- I I Simple ideas, since the mind can operating on the mind.' (Book nr. 

'* Mt. |,y QQ means make them to itself, must chap. v. sec 4.) 

necessarily be the product of things 


perception of agFeement or disagreement between ideas, the 
proposition is the putting together or separation of words, 
as the signs of ideas, in affirmative or negative sentences 
(Book nr. chap. v. sec. 6), and truth — the expression of 
certainty ^ — consists in the correspondence between the con- 
junction or separation of the signs and the agreement or 
disagreement of the ideas. (Book iv. chap. v. sec. 2.) Thus, 
the question between the real and the mental affects all 
these. Does this or that perception of agreement between 
ideas represent an agreement in real existence? Is its cer- 
tainty a real certainty? Does such or such a proposition, 
being a correct expression of an agreement between ideas, 
also through this express an agreement between things P Is 
its truth real, or merely verbal P 

n 6. To answer these questions, according to Locke, we The 
must consider whether the knowledge, or the proposition ^®J^^ 
which expresses it, concerns substances, i.e., ^ the co-existence by a pro- 
of ideas in nature,* on the one hand ; or, on the other, either gj'^'^?°' 
the properties of a mathematical figure or ' moral ideas.' K tain!^m« j^ 
it is of the latter sort, the agreement of the ideas in the ^^ 
mind is itself their agreement in reality, since the ideas '^' 
themselves are archetypes. (Book iv. chap. iv. sees. 6, 7.) 
It is only when the ideas are ectjpes, as is the case when the 
proposition concerns substances, that the doubt arises 
whether the agreement between them represents an agree- 
ment in reality. The distinction made here virtually corre- 
sponds to that which appears in the chapters on the reality 
and adequacy of ideas in the Second Book, and again in 
those on ' names ' in the Third. There the ' complex ideas 
of modes and relation' are pronounced necessarily real 
adequate and true, because, ^ being themselves archetypes, 
tiiey cannot differ from their archetypes.' (Book ii. chap. 
XXX. sec. 4.) ' With them are contrasted simple ideas and 
complex ideas of substances, which are alike ectypes, but 

AH knowledge is certain according it» and by ' certainty/ in distinction 

to Locke (Cf. IV. chap, yi. sec. 13, from this, understand its relation to the 

' certainty is requisite to knowledge '), subject 

though the knowledge must be ex- * Certainty of truth ' is, in like man- 

presMd before the term ' certainty ' is ner, a pleonastic phrase, there being no 

naturally applied to it. (Book it. difference between the definition of it 

chap. Ti, sec 3.) * Certainty of know- (Book it. chap. Ti. sec. 3) and that of 

ledge ' is thus a pleonastic phrase, which * truth' simply, given in Book iv* 

only seems not to be so because we con- chap. t. sec. 2. 

ceire knowledge to have a relation to ' Cf. Book ii. chap. xxxi. sec. 3, and 

things which Locke's definition denies xxxii. sec. 17. 


with this difference from each other, that the simple ideas can- 
not but be faithful copies of their archetypes, while the ideas 
of substances cannot but be otherwise. (Book ii. chap. zxzi. 
sees. 2, 11, &c.) Thus, ' the names of simple ideas and sub- 
stances, with the abstract ideas in the mind which they 
immediately signify, intimate also some real existence, from 
which was derived their original pattern. But the names of 
mixed modes terminate in the idea that is in the mind.' 
(Book III. chap. iv. sec. 2.) *= The names of simple ideas and 
modes,' it is added, 'signify always the real as well as 
nominal essence of their species ' — a statement which, if it is 
to express Locke's doctrine strictly, must be confined to 
names of simple ideas, while in respect of modes it should 
run, that ' the nominal essence which the names of these 
signify is itself the real.' 
when the H?- But though the distinction between different kinds of 
knowledge knowledge in regard to reality cannot but rest on the same 
■ubBtan- principle as that drawn between different kinds of ideas in 
co^ the same regard, it is to be noticed that in the doctrine of 

the Fourth Book * knowledge concerning substances,' in con- 
trast with that in which * our thoughts terminate in the ab- 
stract ideas,' has by itself to cover the ground which, in the 
Second and Third Book, simple ideas and complex ideas of 
substances cover together. This is to be explained by the 
observation, already set forth at large,^ that the simple idea 
has in Locke's Fourth Book become explicitly what in the 
previous books it was implicitly, not a feeling proper, but the 
conscious reference of a feeling to a thing or substance. 
Only because it is thus converted, as we have seen, can it 
constitute the beginning of a knowledge which is not a 
simple idea but a conscious relation between ideas, or have 
(what yet it must have if it can be expressed in a proposi- 
tion) that capacity of being true or false, which implies * the 
reference by the mind of an idea to something extraneous to 
it.' (Book II. chap, xxxii. sec. 4.) Thus, what is said of the 
* simple idea ' in the Second and Third Books, is in the 
Fourth transferred to one form of knowledge concerning sub- 
stances, to that, namely, which consists in * particular ex- 
periment and observation,' and is expressed in singular 
propositions, such as * this is yellow,' * this gold is now solved 
in aqua regia.' Such knowledge cannot but be real, the 

* See abore, paragraph 25. 


propontion which expresses it cannot bat have real oertainiy, in thiBOM 
becanse it is the effect of a ' body actaaUy operating upon general 

> /T> T_ 1- • i\ • r XI- • 1 -J • truth nnwt 

ns (Book iy. chap. xi. sec. 1), just as the simple idea is an be merelj 
ectype directly made by an anshetype. It is otherwise with ▼«rb«L 
complex ideas of substances and with general knowledge or 
propositions abont them. A gronp of ideas, each of which, 
when first produced by a * body,^ has been real, when retained 
in the mind as representing the body, becomes unreal. The 
complex idea of gold is only a nominal essence or the signi- 
fication of a name ; the qualities which compose it are merely 
ideas in the mind, and Ihat general truth which consists in 
a correct statement of the relation between one of them and 
another or the whole — e.g., ' gold is soluble in aqua regia ' — 
holds merely for the mind ;' but it is not therefore to be classed 
with those other mental truths, which constitute mathemati- 
cal and moral knowledge, and which, just because ^ merely 
ideal,' are therefore reaL Its merely mental character 
renders it in Locke's language a ^ trifling proposition,' but 
does not therefore save it from being really untrue. It 
is a ' trifling proposition,' for, unless solubility in aqua regia 
is included in tiie complex idea which the sound ^gold' 
stands for, the proposition which asserts it of gold is not cer- 
tain, not a truth at alL If it is so included, then the pro- 
position is but Splaying with sounds.' It may serve to 
remind an opponent of a definition which he has made but 
is forgetting, but ^ carries no knowledge with it but of the 
signification of a word, however certain it be.' (Book iv. 
chap. viii. sees. 5 & 9.) Tet there is a real gold, outside the 
mind, of which the complex idea of gold in the mind most 
needs try to be a copy, though the conditions of real exist- 
ence are such that no ^complex idea in the mind' can 
possibly be a copy of it. Thus the verbal truth, which 
general propositions concerning substances express, is under 
a perpetual doom of being really untrue. The exemption of 
mathematical and moral knowledge from this doom remains 
an unexplained mercy. Because merely mental, such know- 
ledge is real — ^there being no reality for it to m^«represent — 
and yet not trifling. The proposition that Hhe external 
angle of all triangles is bigger than either of the opposite 
internal angles,' has that general certainty which is never to 
be found but in our ideas, yet ^ conveys instructive real 

* Book IT. chap.zi. sec. 13, irii, 9,&c. 


iCathe- knowledge,' the predicate being ' a necessary consequence of 
"J*^j5*^ the precise complex idea ' which forms the subject, yet * not 
since they contained in it/ ( Book it. chap. yiii. sec. 8.) ^ The same 
concemnoii might be said apparently, according to Locke's judgment 
may be^ (though he is uot SO explicit about this), of a proposition in 
both morals, such as ' God is to be feared and obeyed by man/ 

anTceal. (Book iv. chap. xi« sec. 13.) * But how are such propositions, 
at once abstract and real, general and instructive, to be 
accounted for P There is no ^ workmanship of the mind ' re* 
cognised by Locke but that which consists in compounding 
and abstracting (i.e., separating) ideas of which * it cannot 
originate one.' The ' abstract ideas ' of mathematics, the 
^ mixed modes ' of morals, just as much as the ideas of sub* 
stances, must be derived by such mental artifice from a 
material given in simple feeling, and ^ real ' because so given. 
Yety while this derivation renders ideas of substances unreal 
in contrast with their real ^ originals,' and general proposi- 
tions about them ^ trifling,' because, while ^ intimating an 
existence,' they teU nothing about it, on the other hand it 
actually constitutes the reality of moral and mathematical 
ideas. Their relation to an original disappears; they are 
themselves archetjrpes, from which the mind, by its own act, 
can elicit other ideas not already involved in the meaning of 
their names. But this can ojhj mean that the mind has 
some other frmction than that of uniting what it has ^ found ' 
in separation, and separating again what it has thus united 
1 — that it can itself originate. 
Bignifi- 118. A genius of such native force as Locke's could not 

*??^® *^^ be applied to philosophy without determining the lines of 
trine. future speculation, even though to itself they remained ob- 
scure. He stumbles upon truths when he is not looking for 
them, and the inconsistencies or accidents of his system are 
its most valuable part. Thus, in a certain sense, he may 
claim the authorship at once of the popular empiricism of 
the modem world, and of its refritation. He fixed the prime 
article of its creed, that thought has nothing to do with the 
constitution of facts, but only with the representation of 
them by signs and the rehearsal to itself of what its signs 
have signified — in brief, that its function is merely the 
analytical judgment ; yet his admissions about mathematical 

> Jost M according to Kant such a * Cf . Book it. chap. iii. see. IS, and 
pioposition expresses a jndimeat ' vyn- Book ui. chap. xi. sec. 16. 
thetical/ yet • A-priori.' 


knowledge rendered inevitable the Kantian question, * How 
are syntibetic judgments a-priori possible? ' — which was to 
lead to the recognition of thought as constituting the objec- 
tive world, and thus to get rid of the antithesis between 
thought and reality. In his separation of the datum of ex- * 
perience from the work^ of thought he was merelj following 
the Syllogistic Logic, which really assigns no work to the 
thought, whose office it professes to' magnify, but the analysis 
of given ideas. Taking the work as that Logic conceived it 
(and as it must be conceived if the, separation is to be main- 
tained) he showed — conclusively as against Scholasticism — 
the ' trifling' character of the necessary and universal truths 
with which it dealt. Experience, the manifestation of the real, 
regarded as a series of events which to us are sensations, can 
only yield propositions singular as the events, and having a 
truth like them contingent. By consequence, necessity and 
universalily of connection can only be found in what the mind 
does for itself, without reference to reality, when it analyses 
the complex idea which it retains as the memorandum of its 
past single experiences ; i.e., in a relation' between ideas or 
propositions of which one explicitly includes the other. Upon 
this relation syllogistic reasoning rests, and, except so &r as 
it may be of use for convictiog an opponent (or oneself) of 
inooi^istency, it has nothing to say against such nominalism 
as the above. Hence, with those followers of Locke who 
have been most faithful to their master, it has remained the 
standing rule to make the generality of a truth consist in its 
being analytical of the meaning of a name, and ^ts necessity in 
its being included in one previously conceded. Yet if such were 
the true account of the generality and necessity of mathe- 
matical propositions, their truth according to Locke's 
explicit statement would be ' verbal and trifling,' not, as it is, 
' real and instructive.' 

119, The point of this, the most obvious, contradiction Fatal to 
inherent in Locke'3 empiricism, is more or less striking ac- J?® ^^^^^ 
cording to the fidelity with which the notion of matter-of- themSiwl 
bet, or of the reality that is not of the mind, proper to that '^^^■» 
system, is adhered io. ■ When the popular Logic derived ^n«rol,are 
from Locke has so far forgotten the pit whence it was digged go^^m 
as to hold that propositions of a certainty at once real and **^"*"^ 
general can be derived fix>m experience, and to speak without 
question of 'general matters-of-fact ' in a sense which to Locke 

H s 



almost^ to Hume altogether, would have been a contradiction 
in termSy it naturally finds no disturbance in regarding 
mathematical certainty as different not in kind, but only in 
degree, from that of any other * generalisation from experi- 
ence.' Not aware that the distinction of mathematical from 
empirical generality is the condition upon which, according to 
Locke, the former escapes condemnation as ' trifling,' it does 
not see any need for distinguishing the sources from which 
the two are derived, and hence goes on asserting against 
imaginary or insignificant opponents that mathematical 
truth is derived from * experience ; ' which, if * experience ' 
be so changed from what Locke understood by ib as to yield 
general propositions concerning matters-of-fact of other than 
analytical purport, no one need care to deny. That it can 
yield such propositions is, doubtless, the supposition of the 
physical sciences ; nor, we must repeat, is it the correctness 
of this supposition that is in question, but the validity, upon 
its admission, of that antithesis between experience and the 
work of thought, which is the ' be-aU and end-all ' of the 
popular Logic. 

120. Locke, as we have seen, after all the encroachments 
made unawares by thought within the limits of that ex- 
perience which he opposes to it— or, to put it conversely, 
r^^ r^ after all that he allows * nature * to take without acknow- 
notsodear ledgment from * mind ' — is still so far faithful to the opposi- 
»boutthi» tion as to * suspect a science of nature to be impossible.' 
This suspicion, which is but a hesitating expression of the 
doctrine that general propositions concerning substances are 
merely verbal, is the exact counterpart of the doctrine pro- 
nounced without hesitation that mathematical truths, being 
at once real and general, do not concern nature at all. Beal 
knowledge concerning nature being given by single impres- 
sions of bodies at single times operating upon us, and by 
consequence being expressible only in singular propositions, 
any reality which general propositions state must belong 
merely to the mind, and a mind which can originate a reality 
other than nature's cannot be a passive receptacle of natural 
impressions. Locke admits the real generality of mathe- 
matical truths, but does not face its consequences. Hume, 
seeing the difficulty, will not admit the real generality. The 
modem Logic, founded on Locke, believing in the possibility 
of propositions at once real and general concerning nature^ 

and to v»* 

TiewB of 


does not see the difficulty at all. It reckons mathematical 
to be the same in kind with natural knowledge, each alike 
being real notwithptanding its generality; not aware that 
by so doing, instead of getting rid, as it fancies, of the origi* 
natiye function of thought in respect of mathematical know- 
ledge, it only necessitates the supposition of its being 
originatiye in respect of the knowledge of nature as 

121* It may find some excuse for itself in the hesitation Ambiguity 
with which Locke pronounces the impossibility of real "to««>' 

* , t • -r essence 

generality in the knowledge of nature — an hesitation which causes ]ik« 
necessarily results from the ambiguities, already noticed, in »mWgttit, 
his doctrine of real and nominal essence. So far as the oppo- science of 
sition between the nominal and real essences of substances n&tm, 
is maintained in its absoluteness, as that between eyery 
possible collection of ideas on the one side, and something 
wholly apart from thought on the other, this impossibility 
foUows of necessity. But so far as the notion is admitted of 
the nominal essence being in some way, howeyer inadequately, 
representatiye of the real, there is an opening, however inde- 
finite, for general propositions concerning the latter. On 
the one hand we have the express statement that ^ universal 
propositions, of whose truth and falsehood we can have 
certain knowledge, concern not existence* {Book iv. chap. 
ix. sec. 1). They are founded only on the 'relations and 
habitudes of abstract ideas' (Book iv. chap xii. sec. 7); and 
since it is the proper operation of the mind in abstraction 
to consider an idea under no other existence but what it has 
in the understanding, they represent no knowledge of real 
existence at all (Book ly. chap. ix. sec. 1). Here Zjocke is 
consistently following his doctrine that the ' particularity in 
time,' of which abstraction is made when we consider ideas 
as in the understanding, is what specially distinguishes the 
real ; which thus can only be represented by * actually present 
sensation.' It properly results from this doctrine that tiie pro- 
position representing particular experiment and observation 
is only true of real existence so long as the sensation, in which 
the experiment consists, continues present. Not only is the 
possibility excluded of such experiment yielding a certainty 
which shall be general as well as real, but the particular pro^ 
position itself can only be reaUy true so far as the qualities, 
whose co-existence it asserts, are present sensations. The for- 


Particular nier of these limitations to real truth we find Locke generally 
^^o™^' recognising, and consequently suspecting a science of nature 
afford to be impossible ; but the latter, which would be fisktal to the 
Cowi^e. supposition of there being a real nature at all, even when he 
carries furthest the reduction of reality to present feeling, he 
virtually ignores. On the other hand, there keeps appearing 
the notion that, inasmuch as the combination of ideas which 
make up the nominal essence of a substance is taken from a 
combination in nature or reality, whenever the connexion 
between any of these is necessary, it warrants a proposition 
vmversally ^ue in virtue of the necessary connexion between 
the ideas, and really true in virtue of the ideas being taken 
from reality. According to this notion, though *the certainty 
of universal propositions concerning substances is very narrow 
and scanty,' it is yet possible (Book iv. chap. vi. sec. 18). It 
is not recognised as involving that contradiction which it must 
involve if the antithesis between reality and ideas in the mind 
is absolutely adhered to. Nay, inasmuch as certain ideas of 
primary qualities, e.g, those of solidity and of the receiving or 
communicating motion upon impulse, are necessarily connected, 
it is supposed actually to exist (Book iv. chap iii. sec. 14) . It is 
only because, as a matter of fact, our knowledge of the relation 
between secondary qualities and primaiy is so limited that it 
cannot be carried further. That they are related as effects and 
causes, it would seem, we know ; and that the ' causes work 
steadily, and effects constantly flow fix)m them,' we know also ; 
but * their connexions and dependencies are not discoverable 
in our ideas' (Book iv. chap. iii. sec. 29). That, if discoverable 
in our ideas, just because there discovered, the connexion 
would not be a real co-existence, Locke never expressly says« 
He does not so clearly articulate the antithesis between rela- 
tions of ideas and matters of fact. If he had done so, he must 
also have excluded from real existence those abstract ideas of 
body which constitute the scanty knowledge of it that accor- 
ding to him we do possess (Book rv. chap. iii. sec. 24). He is 
more disposed to sigh for discoveries that would make physics 
capable of the same general certainty as mathematics, than 
to purge the former of those mathematical propositions — 
really true only because having no reference to reality — which 
to him formed the only scientific element in them. 
What 122. The ambiguity of his position will become clearer if 

!t*Sa*^* w© resort to his favourite * instances in gold.' The proposi- 


tdon, ^all gold is soluble in aqua regia,' is certainly true, if afford, ao- 
Buch solubility is included in the complex idea which the j^^*" 
word ' gold ' stands for, and if such inclusion is all that the 
proposition purports to state. It is equally certain and 
equally trifling with the proposition, ^a centaur is four-footed.* 
But, in fiu^t, as a proposition concerning substance, it pur- 
ports to state more than this, viz. that a 'body whose 
complex idea is made up of yellow, very weighty, ductile, 
hisible, and fixed,' is always soluble in aqua regia. In other 
words, it states tiie inyariable co-existence in a body of the 
complex idea, * solubility in aqua regia,' with the gi-oup of 
ideas indicated by ' gold.' Thus understood — as instructive 
or synthetical — it has not the certainty wliich would belong 
to it if it were * trifling,' or analytical, * since we can never, 
from the consideration of the ideas themselves, with certainty 
affirm' their co-existence (Book iv. chap. vi. sec 9). If we 
see the solution actually going on, or can recall the sight of 
it by memory, we can affirm its co-existence with the ideas 
in question in that ' bare instance;' and thus, on the principle 
that 'whatever ideas have once been united in nature maybe 
so united again ' (Book iv. chap. iv. sec. 12), infer a capacity 
of co-existence between the ideas, but that is all. ' Con- 
stant observation may assist our judgments in guessing' an 
invariable actual co-existence (Book iv. chap. viii. sec. 9) ; 
but beyond guessing we cannot get. K our instructive 
proposition concerning co-existence is to be general it 
must remain problematical. It is otherwise with mathe- 
matical propositions. ' If the three angles of a triangle were 
once equal to two right angles, it is certain that they always 
win be so ;' but only because such a proposition concerns 
merely * the habitudes and relations of ideas.' ' If the per- 
ception that the same ideas will eternally have the same 
habitudes and relations be not a sufficient ground of know- 
ledge, there could be no knowledge of general propositions in 
mathematics ; for no mathematical demonstration could be 
other than particular : and when a man had demonstrated 
any proposition concerning one triangle and circle, his know- 
lec^ would not reach bejond that particular diagram' (Book 
IV. chap. i. sec. 9). 

123. To a reader, fresh from our popular treatises on Logic, Not the 
such language would probably at first present no difficulty. ^?j^^^^ 
He would merely lament that Locke, as a successor of Bacon, now sup- 


poMd to be was not better ax^quainted with the * Inductive methods,' and 
g^^^^'^' thus did not understand how an observation of co-existence 
in the bare instance, if the instance be of the right sort, may 
warrant a universal affirmation. Or he may take the other 
side, and regard Locke's restriction upon general certainty as 
conveying, not any doubt as to the validity of the inference 
from an observed case to all cases where the conditions are 
ascertainably the same, but a true sense of the difficulty of 
ascertaining in any other case that the conditions are the 
same. On looking closer, however, he will see that, so far 
from Locke's doctrine legitimately allowing of such an adap- 
tation to the exigencies of science, it is inconsistent with 
itself in admitting the reality of most of the conditions in the 
case supposed to be observed, and thus in allowing the real 
truth even of the singular proposition. This purports to 
state, according to Locke's terminology, that certain 'ideas' 
do now or did once co-exist in a body. But the ideas, thus 
stated to co-exist, according to Locke's doctrine that real 
existence is only testified to by actual present sensation, differ 
from each other as that which really exists from that which 
Yet more does not. In the particular experiment of gold being solved 
♦iian Locke in aqua regia, from the complex idea of solubility an inde- 
titled to finite deduction would have to be made for qualification by 
suppose it ideas retained in the understanding: before we could reach 
^ ' the present sensation ; and not only so, but the group of 
ideas indicated by * gold,' to whose co-existence with solu- 
bility the experiment is said to testify, as Locke himself says, 
form merely a nominal essence, while the body to which we 
ascribe this essence is something which we ' accustom our- 
selves to suppose,' not any * parcel of matter ' having a real 
existence in nature.^ In asserting the co-existence of the 
ideas forming such a nominal essence with the actual sensa- 
tion supposed to be gf].ven in the experiment, we change the 
meaning of ^ existence,' between the beginning and end of 
the assertion, from that according to which all ideas exist to 
that according to which existence has no * connexion with any 
other of our ideas but those of ourselves and God,' but is tes- 
tified to by present sensation.* This paralogism escapes Locke 
just as his equivocal use of the term * idea ' escapes him. The 
distinction, fixed in Hume's terminology as that between im- 

' See aboTe, pniagraphB 35, 94, See. 

' See above, parngraph 30 and the following. 


pression and idea, forces it&elf upon him, as we haYe seen, in 
the Fourth book of the Essay, where the whole doctrine of 
real existence turns upon it, but alongside of it survives the 
notion that ideas, though 'in the mind' and forming a 
nominal essence, are yet, if rightly taken from things, ectypes 
of realiiy. Thus he does not see that the co-existence of 
ideas, to which the particular experiment, as he describes it, 
testifies, is nothing else than the co-existence of an event 
with a conception— -of that which is in a particular time, and 
(according to him) only for that reason real, with that which 
is not in time at all but is an unreal abstraction of the mind's 
making.^ The reality given in the actual sensation cannot, 
as a matter of fact, be discovered to have a necessary con- 
nexion with the ideas that form the nominal essence, and 
therefore cannot be asserted universally to co-exist with 
them; but with better faculties, he thinks, the discovery 
might be made (Book iv. chap. iii. sec. 16). It does not to 
him imply such a contradiction as it must have done if he 
had steadily kept in view his doctrine that of particular {i.e. 
real) existence our * knowledge * is not properly knowledge at 
all, but simply sensation — such a contradiction as was to 
Hume involved in the notion of deducing a matter of fact. 

124. It results that those followers of Locke, who hold the with 
distinction between propositions of mathematical certainty J^^« ™; 
and those concerning real existence to be one rather of degree truths, 
than of kind, though they have the express words of their though 
master against them, can find much in his way of thinking ]^ ^f 
on their side. This, however, does not mean that he in any naturo. 
case drops the antithesis between matters of fact and rela- 
tions of ideas in favour of matters of fact, so as to admit that 
mathematical pro|X>sitions concern matters of fact, but that he 
sometimes drops it in favour of relations of ideas, so as to re- 
present real existence as consisting in such relations. If the 
matter of fact, or real existence, is to be found only in the 
event constituted or reported by present feeling, such a re- 
lation of ideas, by no manner' of means reducible to an event., 
as the mathematical proposition states, can have no sort of 
connection with it. But if real existence is such that the 
relations of ideas, called primary qualities of matter, consti- 
tute it, and the qualities included in our nominal essences are 

' See aboTe, paragraphs 46, 80, 85, 97. 


its copies or efiFects, then, as on the one side our complex 
ideas of substances only faU of reality through want of ful- 
ness, or through mistakes in the process by which they are 

* taken from things,' so, on the other side, the mental truth 
of mathematical propositions need only fail to be real because 
the ideas, whose relations they state, are considered in ab- 
straction from conditions which qualify them in real exist- 
ence. * K it is true of the idea of a triangle that its three 
angles equal two right ones, it is true also of a triangle, 
wherever it really exists " (Book iv. chap. iv. sec. 6). There 
is, then, no incompatibility between the idea and real exist- 
ence. Mathematical ideas might fairly be reckoned, like 
those of substances, to be taken from real existence ; but 
though, like these, inadequate to its complexity, to be saved 
from the necessary infirmities which attach to ideas of sub- 
stances becaase not considered as so taken, but merely as in 
the mind. There is language about mathematics in Locke 
that may be interpreted in this direction, though his most 
explicit statements are on the other side. It is not our 
business to adjust them, but merely to point out the op- 
posite tendencies between which a clear-sighted operator 
on the material given by Locke would find that he had to 

Two lines 125. On the one hand there is the identification of real 
?^ L^^^* existence with the momentary sensible event. This view, of 
between * which the proper result is the exclusion of predication con- 
which a cerning real existence altogether, appears in Locke's restric- 
wouldhave tion of such predication to the singular proposition, and in 
to chose hig converse assertion that propositions of mathematical cer- 
tainty * concern not existence ' (Book rv. chap.iv.sec. 8). The 
embajrassment resulting from such a doctrine is that it leads 
round to the admission of the originativeness of thought and 
of the reality of its originations, with the denial of which it 
starts.^ It leads Locke himself along a track, which his later 
followers scarcely seem to have noticed, when he treats the 

* never enough to be admired discoveries of Mr. Newton ' as 
having to do merely with the relations of ideas in distinction 
from things, and looks for a true extension of knowledge — 
neither in syllogism which can yield no instructive, nor in 
experiment which can yield no general, certainty — but only 
in a further process of ' singling out and laying in order in- 

* See aboTe, paragraph 117f sub. fin. 


termediate ideas,' which are * real as well as uominal essences 
of their species/ because they have no reference to archetypes 
elsewhere than in the mind (Book it. chap. vii. sec 11, and 
Book iv. chap. xii. sec. 7). On the other hand there is the 
notion that ideas, without distinction between ' actual sensa- 
tion' and ^idea in the mind/ are taken &om permanent 
things, and are real if correctly so taken. From this it results 
that propositions, universally true as representing a necessary 
relation between ideas of primary qualities, are true also of 
real existence; and that an extension of such real certainty 
through the discovery of a necessary connexion between ideas 
of primary and those of secondary qualities, though scarcely 
to be hoped for, has no inherent impossibility. It is this 
notion, again, that unwittingly gives even that limited signi- 
ficance to the particular experiment which Locke assigns 
to it, as indicating a co-existence between ideas present as 
sensations and those which can only be regarded as in the 
mind. Nor is it the intrinsic import so much as the expres- 
sion of this notion that is altered when Locke substitutes an 
order of nature for substance as that in which the ideas co- 
exist. In his Fourth Book he so far departs from the doctrine 
implied in his chapters on the reality and adequacy of ideas 
and on the names of substances, as to treat the notion of 
several single subjects in which ideas co-exist (which he still 
holds to be the proper notion of substances), as a fiction of 
thought. There are no such single subjects. What we deem 
so are really * retainers to other parts of nature.' * Their ob- 
servable qualities, actions, and powers are owing to something 
without them ; and there is not so complete and perfect a 
part that we know of nature, which does not owe the being 
it has, and the excellencies of it, to its neighbours ' (Book rv. 
chap. vi. sec. 11). As thus conceived of, the ^objective order' 
which our experience represents is doubtless other than that 
collection of fixed separate ^ things,' implied in the language 
about substances which Locke found in vogue, but it remains 
an objective order still — an order of ^ qualities, actions, and 
powers ' which no midtitude of sensible events could consti- 
tute, but apart fix)m which no sensible event could have such 
significance as to render even a singular proposition of real 
truth possible. 

126. It remains to inquire how, with Locke, the ideas of ^^oSriwl 
self and Grod escape subjection to those solvents of reality ofGodtnd 



which, with more or less of consistency and consciousness, he 
applied to the conceptions on which the science of nature 
rests. Such an enquiry forms the natural transition to the 
next stage in the history of his philosophy. It was Berkeley's 
practical interest in these ideas that held him back from a 
development of his master's principles, in which he would 
haye anticipated Hume, and finally brought him to attach 
that other meaning to the ^ new way of ideas ' faintly adum- 
brated in the later sections of his 'Siris,' which gives to 
Beason the functions that Locke had assigned to Sense. 
TWBking 127. The dominant notion of the self in Locke is that of 
— flouioeof ^^ inward substance, or 'substratum of ideas,' co-ordinate 
the saiiM with the outward, * wherein they do subsist, and from which 
outer Mb- *^®y ^^ result.' * Sensation convinces that there are solid 
extended substances, and reflection that there are thinking 
ones' (Book ii. chap. xxiiL sec. 29). We have already seen 
how, without disturbance from his doctrine of the fictitious- 
ness of universals, he treats the simple idea as carrying with it 
the distinction of outward and inward, or relations severally 
to a ^ thing' and to a * mind.' It reports itself ambiguously 
as a quality of each of these separate substances. It is now, 
or was to begin with, the result of an outward thing 'actually 
operating upon us ;' for * of simple ideas the mind cannot 
make one to itself:' on the other hand, it is a 'perception,' 
and perception is an ' operation of the mind.' In other words 
it is at once a modification of the mind by something of 
which it is consciously not conscious, and a modification of 
the mind by itself — the two sources of one and the same 
modification being each determined only as the contradictory 
of the other. Thus, when we come to probe the familiar 
metaphors under which Locke describes Eeflection, as a 'foun- 
tain of ideas' other than sensation, we find that the confusions 
which we have already explored in dealing with the ideas of 
sensation recur under added circumstances of embarrassment. 
Not only does the simple idea of reflection, like that of sen- 
sation, turn out to be already complicated in its simplicity 
with the superinduced ideas of cause and relation, but the 
causal substance in question turns out to be one which, from 
being actually nothing, becomes something by acting upon 
itself; while all the time the result of this action is indistin- 
guishable fix)m that ascribed to the opposite, the external, 


128. To a reader to whom Locke's langnage has always Of wUch 
seemed to be — as indeed it is — simply that of common sense ""*^^!|! 
and life, in writing the above we shall seem to be creating a Uon the 
difficulty where none is to be found. Let us turn, then, to ^^^^^ 
one of the less prolix passages, in which the distinction 
between the two sources of ideas is expressed : ^ External 
objects furnish the mind with the ideas of sensible qualities, 
which are all those different perceptions they produce in us ; 
and the mind famishes the understanding with ideas of its 
own operations' (Book u. chap. i. sec. 5). We have seen 
already that with Locke perception and idea are equivalent 
terms. It only needs further to be pointed out that no dis- 
tinction can be maintained between his usage of ^ mind ' and 
of ' understanding,' ^ and that the simple ideas of the mind's 
own operations are those of perception and power, which must 
begiven in and with every idea of a sensible quality.^ Avoiding 
synonyms, then, and recalling the results of our examination 
of the terms involved in the first clause of the passage 
before us, we may re-write the whole thus : '* Creations of 
the mind, which yet are external to it, produce in it those 
perceptions of their qualities which they do produce ; and the 
mind produces in itself the perception of these, its own, per- 

129. This attempt to present Locke's doctrine of the rela- Thatwldeh 
tion between the mind and the world, as it would be without ^ ^^ . 

B0I1FC6 01 

phraseological disguises, must not be ascribed to any polemi- eubstantia- 
cal interest in making a great writer seem to talk nonsense. ^^^^^^ 
The greatest writer must fall into confusions when he brings suUtanctt. 
under the conceptions of cause and substance the self-con- 
scious thought which is their source ; and nothing else than 
this is involved in Locke's avowed enterprise of knowing that 
which renders knowledge possible as he might know any 
other object. The enterprise naturally falls into two parts, 
corresponding to that distinction of subject and object which 
self-consciousness involves. Hitherto we have been dealing 
with it on the objective side — with the attempt to know 
knowledge as a result of experience received through the 
senses — and have found the supposed source of thought 
already charged with its creations ; with the relations of inner 

1 A» beoomM apparent on examina- sec 1, inb. fin. ; and Book n. chap. L 
tkmof Baehpa88age8,asBookii.chap.i. aec 23. 

* See above, paragraphs 11, 12, \6 


and outer, of substance ^and attribute, of cause and effect, of 
appearance and reality. The supposed ^ outward ' turns ont 
to have its outwardness constituted by thought, and thus to 
be inward. The ^ outer sense * is only an outer sense at all 
so far as feelings, by themselves neither outward nor inward, 
are by the mind referred to a thing or cause which ^ the mind 
supposes;' and only thus have its reports a prerogative of 
reality over the * fantasies,* supposed merely of the mind. . 
Meanwhile, unable to ignore the subjective side of self- 
consciousness, Locke has to put an inward experience as a 
separate, but co-ordinate, source of knowledge alongside of 
the outer. But this inward experience, simply as a succession 
of feelings, does not differ from the outer : it only so differs 
as referred to that very * thinking thing,' called the mind, 
which by its supposition of causal substance has converted 
feeling into an experience of an outer thing. ^ Mind ' thus, 
by the relations which it * invents,' constitutes both the inner 
and outer, and yet is treated as itself the inner ' substratum 
which it accustoms itself to suppose.* It thus becomes the 
creature of its own suppositions. Nor is this all. This, 
indeed, is no more than the fate which it must suffer at the 
hands of every philosopher who, in Kantian language, brings 
the source of the Categories under the Categories. But with 
Locke the constitution of the outer world by mental suppo- 
sition, however uniformly implied, is always ignored ; and 
thus mind, as the inward substance, is not only the creature 
of its own suppositions, but stands over against a real exis- 
tence, of which the reality is held to consist just in its being 
the opposite of all such suppositions : while, after all, the 
effect of th^se mutually exclusive causes is one and the same 
experience, one and the same system of sequent and co- 
existent ideas. 
To gat rid 130. Is it then a case of joint-effect P Do the outer and 
ioOTceof ^' inner substances combine, like mechanical forces, to produce 
ideas in the psychical result ? Against such a supposition a follower 
S^°" tor ^^ Locke would find not only the language of his master, 
would be with whom perception appears indifferently as the result of 
^iB6 to y^Q outer or inner cause, but the inherent impossibility of 
analysing the effect into separate elements. The ' Law of 
Parcimony,* then, will dictate to him that one or other of the 
causes must be dispensed with ; nor, so long as he takes 
Locke's identification of the outwaxd with the real for 


granted, will he have much doubt as to which of the two must 
go. To get rid of the cansalitj of mind, however, though it 
might not be nntme to the tendency of Locke, wonld be 
to lose sight of his essential merit as a formnlator of what 
everyone thinks, which is that, at whatever cost of confusion 
or contradiction, he at least formulates it fully. In him the 
' Dialectic,' which popular belief implicitly involves, goes on 
under our eyes. If the primacy of self-conscious thought is 
never recognized, if it remains the victim of its own misun- 
derstood creations, there is at least no attempt to disguise the 
unrest which attaches to it in this self-imposed subjection. 

181. We have already noticed how the inner ^tablet,' on The mind, 
which the outer thing is supposed to act, is with Locke per- ^^^^ 
petually receding.* It is first the brain, to which the * motion poaee^to^ 
of the outward parts ' must be continued in order to consti- matter, 
tute sensation (Book n. chap. ix. sec. 8). Then perception ^?^|^ 
is distinguished from sensation, and the brain itself, as the ing. 
subject of sensation, becomes the outward in contrast with the 
understanding as the subject of perception.* Then perception, 
from being simply a reception, is converted into an * opera- 
tion,' and thus into an efficient of ideas. The ^ understand- 
ing ' itself, as perceptive, is now the outward which makes 
on the * mind,' as the inner * tablet,' that impression of its 
own operation in perception which is called an idea of 
reflection.' Nor does the regressive process — the process of 
finding a mind within the mind — stop here, though the dis- 
tinction of inner and outer is not any further so explicitly 
employed in it. From mind, as receptive of, and operative 
about, ideas, i. e. consciousness, is distinguished mind as the 

* substance within us ' of which consciousness is an * opera-- 

tion ' that it sometimes exercises, sometimes (a. g. when it ' 

sleeps) does not (Boox ii. chap. i. sees. 10-12) ; and from 
this thinking substance again is distinguished the man who 

* finds it in himself' and carries it about with him in a coach 
or on horseback (Book ii. chap, xxiii. sec. 20) — the person, 
^ consisting of soul and body,' who is prone to sleep and in 
sound sleep is unconscious, but whose personal identity 

■ See abore, iMragraph 14. mind impresring the nnden^nding, and 

* Book n., chap. i. sec. 23. * Senea- of the understanding impressing the 
tion IB such an hnpreBsion made in some mind, with ideas of reflection, but as he 
pan of the body, as produces some per- specially defines * understanding' as tha 
cepdoninthe understanding.' ^perceptiye power' (Book ii. chap. 21, 

* lioeke speaks indilferentlj of the sec. 25.), I have written as abore. 


strangely consists in sameness of consciousness, sameness of 
an occasional operation of part of himself.* 
Two wnyB 182. In the history of subsequent philosophy two typical 
d^ffi°^iti^^ methods have appeared of dealing with this chaos of anti- 
nomies. One, which we shall have to treat at large in 
writing of Hume, aflfects to dispose of both the outward and the 
inward synthesis — both of the unity of feelings in a subject 
matter and of their unity in a subject mind — as * fictions of 
thought.^ This method at once suggests the vital ques- 
tion whether a mind which thus invents has been effeciivelj 
suppressed — whether, indeed, the theory can be so much as 
stated without a covert assumption of that which it claims 
to have destroyed. The other method, of which Kant is the 
parent, does not attempt to efface the apparent contradic- 
tions which beset the * relation between mind and matter ; * 
but regarding them as in a certain sense inevitable, traces 
them to their source in the application to the thinking Ego 
itself of conceptions, which it does indeed constitute in virtue 
of its presence to phenomena given under conditions of time, 
but under which for that very reason it cannot itself be 
known. It is in virtue of the presence of the self-conscious 
unit to the manifold of feeling, according to this doctrine, 
that the latter becomes an order of definite things, each ex- 
ternal to the other ; and it is only by a false inclusion within 
this onler of that which constitutes it that the Ego itself 
becomes a * thinking thing * with other things outside it. The 
result of such inclusion is that the real world, which it in 
the proper sense makes, becomes a reality external to it, yet 
apart from which it would not be actually anythrog. Thus 
with Locke, though the mind has a potential existence of its 
own, it is experience of * things without it' that 'furnishes' it 
or makes it what it actually is. But the relation of such 
outer things to the mind cannot be spoken of without con- 
tradiction. If supposed outward as bodies, they have to be 
brought within consciousness as objects of sensation ; if sup- 
posed outward as sensation, they have to be brought within 
consciousness — ^to find a home in the understanding — as ideas 
of sensation. Meanwhile the consideration returns that after 

' Of. II. chap. i. sees. 11 and 14, with of oonsdouBneBB, with the doctrine im^ 

u. chap, zxvii. sec. 9. It is difficult plied in Book n. chap. i. sec 11, that 

to see what ingenuity could reconcile the the waking Socrates is the same penoa 

doctrine stat^ in Book il cha^. xxvii. with Socrates asleep, «.«. (according to 

■ec. 9, that personal identity is identity Locke) not conscious at all. 


all the ^ thinking thing ' contributes something to that which 'Matter' 
it thinks aboat ; and, this once admitted, it is as impossible have Uie 
to limit its work on one side as that of the outer thing on same 
the other. Each usurps the place of its opposite. Thus with J^^S^'" 
Locke the understanding produces e£Pect8 on itself, but the sciousneKs. 
product is one and the same ' perception ' otherwise treated 
as an effect of the outer world. One and the same self-con- 
sciousness, in short,^ involving the correlation of subject and 
object, becomes the result of two separate ^ things,' each ' 
exclusive of the other, into which the opposite poles of this 
relation have been converted — the extended thing or * body ' 
on the one side, and the thinking thing or ' mind ' on the 

133. To each of these supposed ^ things ' thought transfers Difficulties 
its own unity and self-containedness, and thereupon finds itself JJ ^J^^pJb!^ 
in new difiiculties. These, so far as they concern the outward ing reality 
thing, have already been suflBiciently noticed. We have seen J?_"°^' 
how the single seUT-contained thing on the one hand attenu- matter, re- 
ates itself to the bare atom, presented in a moment of time, *PP«^ « 
which in its exclusiveness is actually nothing :• how, on the w^nc* 
other, it spreads itself, as everything which for one moment as mind. 
we regard as independent turns out in the next to be a 
^retainer' to something else, into a series that cannot be 
summed.* A like consequence follows when the individual 
man, conceiving of the thought, which is not mine but me, 
and which is no less the world without which I am not I, as a 
thinking thing within him, limited by the limitations of his 
animal nature, seeks in this thinking thing, exclusive of other 
things, that unit^ and self-containedness, which only belong 
to the universal ^ I.' He finds that he ' thinks not always ;' 
that during a fourth part of his time he neither thinks nor 
perceives at all; and that even in his waking hours his 
consciousness consists of a succession of separate feelings, 
whose recurrence he cannot command/ Thought being thus 
broken and dependent, substantiality is not to be found in it. 
It is next sought in the ^ thing ' of which thought is an occa- 
sional operation — a thing of which it may readily be admitted 
that its nature cannot be known,^ since it has no nature, being 
merely that which remains of the thinking thing upon ab- 

' Fcr the eqiuYalenoe of perception following. 

with aeif-coneeioiiBneas in Locke, aee ' See abore, paragraph 126. 

atiOTe, paragraph 24, et infht. • Locke, Eeeay ii. chap. i. sec 10, ete. 

* See aboT^ paragraph 94 and the * Book ii. chap, xxiii. sec. 29, ettf. 

VOL. I. I 

^*^ CFTHF • A 



straction of its sole determination. It is in principle nothing 
else than the supposed basis of sensible qualities remaining 
after these have been abstracted — the * parcel of matter' 
which has no essence — with which accordingly Locke some* 
times himself tends to identify it.' But meanwhile, behind 
this unknown substance, whether of spirit or of body, the 
self-consciousness, which has been treated as its occasional 
unessential operation, re-asserts itself as the self which claims 
' both body and spirit, the immaterial no less than the material 
substance, as its own, and throughout whatever diversity in 
these maintains its own identity. 
We think 134. Just, then, as Locke's conception of outward reality 
notalways, grows under his hands into a conception of nature as a system 
thought of relations which breaks through the limitations of reality 
constitutes as constituted by mere ivdividua^ so it is with the self, as he 
conceived it. It is not a simple idea. It is not one of the 
train that is for ever passing, ^one going and another coming,' 
for it looks on this succession as that which it experiences, 
being itself the same throughout the successive differences 
(Book II. chap. vii. sec. 9, and chap. zxviL sec. 9). As little 
can it be adjusted to any of the conditions of real ^ things,' 
thinking or unthinking, which he ordinarily recognises. It 
has no ' particularity in space and time.' That which is past 
in * reality' is to it present. It is * in its nature indifferent 
to any parcel of matter.' It is the same with itself yesterday 
and to-day, here and there. That ' with which its conscious- 
ness can join itself is one self with it,' and it can so join itself 
with substances apart in space and remote in time (Book ii. 
chap, xxvii. sees. 9, 13, 14, 17). For speaking of it as eternal, 
indeed, we could find no warrant in Locke. He does not so 
clearly distinguish it from the * thinking thing ' supposed to 
be within each man, that has ' had its determinate time and 
place of beginning to exist, relation to which determines its 
identity so long as it exists' (Book ii. chap, xxvii. sec. 2). 
Hence he supposed an actual limit to the past which it could 
make present— a limit seemingly fixed for each man at the 
farthest by the date of his birth — though he talks vaguely of 
the possibility of its range being extended (Book ii. chap, 
xxvii. sec. 16). In the discussion of personal identity, how- 
ever, the distinction gradually forces itself upon him, and he 
at last expressly says (sec. 16), that if the same Socrates^ 

> See above, paragraph 106, near the end. 


sleepuig and waking, do not partake of the same conscious- 
ness (as according to Book ii. chap. i. sec. 11 he certainly 
does not), ^ Socrates sleeping and waking is not the same 
person;' whereas the ^thinking thing' — the substance of 
which consciousness is apower sometimes exercised, sometimes 
not — ^is the same in the sleeping as in the waking Socrates. 
This is a pregnant admission, but it brings nothing to the 
birth in Locke himself. The inference which it suggests to 
his reader, that a self which does not slumber or sleep is not 
one which is bom or dies, does not seem to have occurred to 
him. Taking for his method the imaginary process of 
'looking into his own breast,' instead of the analysis of 
knowledge and morality, he could not find the eternal self 
which knowledge and morality pre-suppose, but only the con- 
tradiction of a person whose consciousness is not the same 
for two moments together, and ofken ceases altogether, but 
who yet, in virtue of an identity of this very consciousness, 
is the same in childhood and in old ago. 

135. Here as elsewhere we have to be thankful that the Locke 
contradiction had not been brought home so strongly to 5?'**^®', 
Locke as to make him seek the suppression of either of its thesA con- 
altematives. He was aware neither of the burden which his *!^*®" 
philosophy tended to put upon the self which * can consider attempts 
itself as itself in diflFerent times and places ' — the burden of *<> ®^**r" 
replacing the stable world, when * the new way of ideas' should **™* *°^ 
have resolved the outward thing into a succession of feelings 
— nor of the hopelessness of such a burden being borne by a 
* perishing ' consciousness, ^ of which no two parts exist to- 
gether, but follow each other in succession.'* When he 
' looked into himself,' he found consciousness to consist in 
the succession of ideas, ' one coming and another going :' he 
also found that * consciousness alone makes what we call self,' 
and that he was the same self at any different points in the 
succession. He noted the two ^ facts of consciousness ' at 
different stages of his enquiry, and was apparently not struck 
by their contradiction. He could describe them both, and 
whatever he could describe seemed to him to be explained. 

■ Cf. n. chsp. nr. sec. 32— 'by ob- Buccession, we get the ideA of duration* 

■eiriog what panes in our minds, how — with chap. xy. sec. 12. 'I>uration 

our idms there in train constantly some is the idea we have of perishing distance, 

Taniah and others begin to appear, we of which no two parts exist together, bnt 

eome by the idea of sneoession ; and by follow each other in snocession.' 
obserring a distance in the parts of this 




Is the idea 
of God 
possible to 
a con- 
given in 

Mcount of 
this idea. 

Hence they did not suggest to him any question either as 
to the nature of the observed object or as to the possibility 
of observing it, such as might have diverted philosophy from 
the method of self-observation. He left them side by side, 
and, far from disguising either, put alongside of them another 
fact — the presence among the perpetually perishing ideas of 
that of a consciousness identical with itself, not merely in 
different times and places, but in all times and places. Such 
an idea, under the designation of an eternal wise Being, he 
was ^ sure he had ' (Book ii. chap. rvii. sec. 14). 

136. The remark will at once occur that the question con- 
cerning the relation between our consciousness, as in sac- 
cession, and the idea of God, is essentially different from that 
concerning the relation between this consciousness and the 
self identical throughout it, inasmuch as the relation in the 
one case is between a fact and an idea, in the other between 
conflicting facts. The identity of the self, which Locke 
asserts, is one of * real being,' and this is found to lie in con- 
sciousness, in apparent conflict with the fact thafc conscious- 
ness is a succession, of which ^ no two parts exist together.' 
There is no such conflict, it will be said, between the idea of 
a conscious being, who is the same yesterday, to-day, and for 
ever — the correspondence to which of any reality is a farther 
question — and the/oc^ of our consciousness being in succes- 
sion. Allowing for the moment the validity of this dis- 
tinction, we will consider first the difficulties that attach to 
Locke's account of the idea of God, as an idea. 

137. This idea, with him, is a * complex idea of substance.' 
It is the idea each man has of the ^ thinking thing within 
him, enlarged to infinity.' It is beset then in the first place 
with all the difficidties which we have found to belong to his 
doctrine of substance generally and of the thinking substance 
in particular.* These need not be recalled in detail. When 
God is the thinking substance they become more obvious. 
It is the antithesis to ^ material substance,' as the source of 
ideas of sensation, that alone with Locke gives a meaning to 
* thinking substance,' as the source of ideas of reflection : 
and if, as we have seen, the antithesis is untenable when it 
is merely the source of human ideas that is in question, much 
more must it be so in regard to God, to whom any opposition 
of material substance must be a limitation of his perfect 

* See above, paragraph 35 and the following, and 127 and the following. 

roEA OF GOD. 117 

nature. Of the generic element in the abof e definition, then, 
no more need here be said. It is the qualification of ^ en- 
largement to infinity/ by which the idea of man as a thinking 
substance is represented as becoming the idea of God, that 
is the special difficulty now before us. Of this Locke writes 
as follows : — ' The complex idea we have of God is made up 
of the simple ones we receive from refiection. If I find that 
I know some few things, and some of them, or all perhaps, 
imperfectly, I can frame an idea of knowing twice as many : 
which I can double again as often as I can add to number, 
and thus enlarge my ideas of knowledge by extending its 
comprehension to all things existing or possible. The same 
I -can do of knowing them more perfectly, i.e. all their quali- 
ties, powers, causes, consequences, and relations ; and thus 
£rame the idea of infinite or boundless knowledge. The same 
also may be done of power till we come to that we call infi- 
nite ; and also of the duration of existence without beginning 
or end ; and so frame the idea of an eternal being. . . All 
which is done by enlarging the simple ideas we have taken 
from the operation of our own minds by reflection, or by our 
senses from exterior things, to that vastness to which infinity 
can extend them. For it is infinity which joined to our ideas 
of existence, power, knowledge, &c., makes that complex idea 
whereby we represent to ourselves the supreme being ' (Book 
n. chap, xxiii. sec. 38 — 85). What is meant by this ^joining 
of infinity ' to our ideas ? 

188. *rinite and infinite,* says Locke, * are looked upon 'Infinity; 
by the mind as the modes of quantity, and are to be attri- J^L^ke^ 
buted primarily only to those things that have parts and are account of 
capable of increase by the addition of any the least part ' appHoabie 
(Book n. chap. ivii. sec. 1). Such are * duration and ex- to God, if 
pansion.' The applicability then of the term * infinite * in ?^^" 
its proper sense to God implies that he has expansion or 
duration ; and it is characteristic of Locke that though he 
was dear about the divisibility of expansion and duration, as 
the above passage shows, he has no scruple about speaking 
of them as attributes of God, of whom as beiug ^ in his own 
essence simple and uncompounded ' he would never have 
spoken as ^ having parts.' * Duration is the idea we have of 
perishing distance, of which no parts exist together but foUow 
each other in succession ; as expansion is the idea of lasting 


distaiuse, all whose parts exist together.' Yet of duration 
and expansion, thus defined, he says that ' in their fnll ex- 
tent ' (i. e. as seyerallj * eternity and immensity ') * they 
belong only to the Deity ' (Book ii. chap. xv. sees. 8 and 12). 

* A fall extent ' of them, however, is in the nature of the case 
impossible. With a last moment duration would cease to be 
duration ; without another space beyond it space woulc^i not 
be space. Lodke is quite aware of this. When his concep- 
tion of infinity is not embarrassed by reference to God, it 
is simply that of unlimited ' addibility ' — a juxta-position of 
space to space, a succession of time upon time, to which we 
can suppose no Umit so long as we consider space and time 

* as having parts, and thus capable of increase by the addi- 
tion of parts,' and which therefore excludes the very possi- 
bility of a totality or *full extent* (Book ii. chap, xvi, sec. 8, 
and xvii. sec. 13). The question, then, whether infinity of 
expansion and duration in this, its only proper, sense can be 
predicated of the perfect God, has only to be asked in order 
to be answered in the negative. Nor do we mend the matter 
if, instead of ascribing such infinity to God, we substitute 
another phrase of Locke's, and say that He ' tills eternity 
and immensity' (Book ii. chap. xv. sec. 8). Put for eternity 
and immensity their proper equivalents according to Locke, 
viz. unlimited ^ addibility ' of times and spaces, and the 
essential unmeaningness of the phrase becomes apparent. 

Can it be 139. Li regard to any other attributes of God than those 
JPP^;^^ of his duration and expansion,* Locke admits that the term 
stiveiy *? * infinite ' is applied • figuratively ' (Book n. chap, xvii. sec. 
1). ^When we call them (e. 9. His power, wisdom, and 
goodness) infinite, we have no other idea of this infinity 
but what carries with it some refiection on, or intimation of, 
that number or extent of the acts or objects of God's wisdom, 
&c., which can never be supposed so great or so many which 
these attributes will not always surmount, let us multiply 
them in our thoughts as far as we can with all the infinity 
of endless number.' What determination, then, according to 
this passage, of our conception of God's goodness is repre- 

* In the passages referred to, Locke ascri^on of expansion to God, he taeitly 

speaks of * daratioD and ubiquity* The substitates for it * ubiquity,' a term 

{xroper counterpart, howerer, df ' dura- which does not match * duration/ and 

tion* according to him is * expansion ' — can only mean presence throughout the 

this being to space what duration is loAofoof expansion, presence throughout 

to time. Under the embarrassmenti the whole of that which does not admit 

however, wliicli nocessarilv attends the of a whole. 


aented by calling it infinite ? Simply its relation to a nnmber ^P^^'J*' 
of acts and objects of which the sum can always be increased, ^ite num- 
and which, just for that reason, cannot represent the perfect ber of 
God. Is it then, it may be asked, of mere perversity that ^ 
when thinking of Grod under attributes that are not quanti- 
tative, and therefore do not carry with them the necessity of 
incompleteness, we yet go out of our way by this epithet * in- 
finite ' to subject them to the conditions of quantity and its 
^ progressus ad infinitum 9 ' 

140. Betaining Locke's point of view, our answer of course An act, 
must be that our ideas of the Divine attributes, being naturi,"** 
primarily our own ideas of reflection, are either ideas of the remains w. 
single successive acts that constitute our inward experience ^^^'^ 
or formed from these by abstraction and combination. In peaud. 
parts our experience is given, in parts only can we recall it. 
Our complex or abstract ideas are symbols which only take 
a meaning so far as we resolve them into the detached im- 
pressions which in the sum they represent, or recall the 
objects, each with its own before and after, from which they 
were originally taken. So it is with the ideas of wisdom, 
power, and goodness, which from ourselves we transfer to 
God. They represent an experience given in succession and 
piece-meal — a numerable series of acts and events, which like 
every other number is already infinite in the only sense of 
the word of which Locke can give a clear account, as suscep- 
tible of indefinite repetition (Book ii. chap. vi. sec. 8.) When 
we *join infinity' to these ideas, then, unless some other 
meaning is given to infinity, we merely state explicitly what 
was originally predicable of the experience they embody. 
Nor will it avaU us much to shift the meaning of infinite, 
as Locke does when he applies it to the divine attributes, 
from that of indefinite * addibility ' to that of exceeding any 
sum which indefinite multiplication can yield us. Let us 
suppose an act of consciousness, from which we have taken 
an abstract idea of an attribute — say of wisdom — to be a 
million times repeated ; our idea of the attribute will not 
vary with the repetition. Nor if, having supposed a limit 
to the repetition^ we then suppose the act indefinitely re- 
peated beyond this limit and accordingly speak of the attri- 
bute as infinite, will our idea of the attribute vary at all 
from what it was to begin with. Its content will be the same. 
There will be nothing to be said of it which could not have 



i3^od only 
infinite m 
a sense in 
which time 
is not infi- 
nite, and 
could not 

been said of the experience &om which it was originallj 
abstracted, and of which the essential characteristic — ^that 
it is one of a series of eyents of which no two can be present 
together - is incompatible with divine perfection. 

141. It appears then that it is the subjection of our ex- 
perience to tiie form of time which unfits the ideas derived 
from it for any combination into an idea of God ; nor by 
being ^ joined with an infinity/ which itself merely means 
the absence of limit to succession in time, is their unfitness 
in any way modified. On the contrary, by such conjunction 
from being latent it becomes patent. In one important 
passage Locke becomes so far aware of this that, though 
continuing to ascribe infinite duration to God, he does it 
under qualifications inconsistent with the very notion of 
duration. * Though we cannot conceive any duration with- 
out succession, nor put it together in our thoughts that any 
being does now exist to-morrow or possess at onoe more than 
the present moment of duration ; yet we can conceive the 
eternal duration of the Almighty far different from that of 
man, or any other finite being t because man comprehends 
not in his knowledge or power all past and future things 
.... what is once past he can never recall, and what 
is yet to come he cannot make present. . . . God's infinite 
duration being accompanied with infinite knowledge and 
power, he sees all things past and to come ' (Book ii. chap. 
XV. sec 12). It is clear that in this passage ^infinite' 
changes its meaning ; that it is used in one sense — ^the 
proper sense according to Locke — when applied to dura- 
tion, and in some wholly different sense, not a figurative 
one derived from the former, when applied to knowledge 
and power ; and that the infinite duration of Grod, as ' ac- 
companied by infinite power and knowledge,' is no longer in 
any intelligible sense duration at all. It is no longer ' the 
idea we have of perishing distance,' derived from our fleeting 
consciousness in which ^ what is once past can never be re-P 
called,' but the attribute of a consciousness of which, if it is 
to be described in terms of time at all, in virtue of its ^ see- 
ing all things past and to come ' at once, it can only be 
said that it ^ does now exist to-morrow.' If it be asked. 
What meaning can we have in speaking of such a conscious- 
ness? into what simple ideas can it be resolved when 
all our ideas are determined by a before and after ? — the 


answer must be, Jnst as much or as little meaning as we 
have when, in like contradiction to the successive presenta- 
tion of ideas, we speak of a self, constituted by conscious- 
nessy as identical with itself throughout the years of our 

142. A more positive answer it is not our present business —the a 

to give. Our concern is to show that * eternity and im- whiSi'Sie 
mensity,' according to any meaning that Locke recognises, Mlfi> 
or that the observation of our ideas could justify, do not '° °***' 
express any conception that can carry us beyond the per- 
petual incompleteness of our experience; but that in his 
doctrine of personal identity he does admit a conception 
which no observation of our ideas of reflection — since these 
are in succession and could not be observed if they were not 
— can account for ; and that it is just this conception, the 
conception of a constant presence of consciousness to itself 
incompatible with conditions of space and time, that can 
alone give such meaning to ^ eternal and infinite ' as can 
render them significant epithets of God. Such a conception 
(we say it with respect) Locke admits when it is wanted 
without knowing it It must indeed always underlie the 
idea of €rod, however alien to it may be attempted adapta- 
tions of the other * infinite * — the 'progresmis ad indefinitam in 
space and time — by which, as with Locke, the idea is ex- 
plained. But it is one for which the psychological method 
of observing what happens in oneself cannot account, and. 
which therefore this method, just so far as it is thoroughly 
carried out» must tend to discard. That which happens, 
whether we reckon it an inward or an outward, a physical 
or a psychical event — and nothing but an event can, pro- 
perly speaking, be observed — is as such in time. But the 
presence of consciousness to itself, though, as the true 
' punctum stans,' ' it is the condition of the observation of 
events in time, is not such an event itself. In the ordinary 
and proper sense of ^ fact,' it is not a &ct at all, nor yet a 
possible abstraction from facts. To the method, then, which 
deals with phrases about the mind by ascertaining the 
observable 'mental phenomena' which they represent, it 
must remain a mere phrase, to be explained as the offspring 
of other phrases whose real import has been misunderstood. 

* Lo^a, £iMj n. efaap. vnL tee. IS. 


How do I 

know mv 
own real 

It can only recover a significance wlien this method, as with 
Hume, has done its worst, and is found to leave the i)osBi- 
bility of knowledge, without such * punctum stans,' still 
unaccounted for. 

143. We have finally to notice the way in which Locke 
maintains our knowledge of the ' real existence ' of thinking 
substance, both as that which 'we call our mind,' and as 
God. Of the former first. * Experience convinces us that 
we have an intuitive knowledge of our own existence. . . . 
If I know I feel pain, it is evident I have as certain percep- 
tion of my own existence as of the pain I feeL If I know I 
doubt, I have as certain perception of the existence of the 
thing doubting as of that thought which I call doubt * (Book 
rv. chap. ix. sec. 3). Upon this the remark must occur that 
the existence of a painful feeling is one thing ; the existence 
of a permanent subject, remaining the same with itself, when 
the feeling is over, and through the succession of other 
feelings, quite another. The latter is what is meant by 
my own existence, of which undoubtedly there is a ^ certain 
perception,' if the feeling of pain has become the ' know- 
ledge that I feel pain,' and if by the ^ I ' is understood such a 
permanent subject. That the feeling, as ' simple idea,' is taken 
to begin with by Locke for the knowledge that I feel some- 
thing, we have sufBciently seen.^ Just as, in virtue of this 
conversion, it gives us * assurance ' of the real existence of 
the outer thing or material substance on the one side, so of 
the thinking substance on the other. It carries with it the 
certainty at once that I have a feeling, and that something 
makes me feel. But whereas, after the conversion of feeling 
into a felt thing has been tiiroughout assumed — as indeed 
otherwise feeling could not be spoken of — a further question 
is raised, which causes much embarrassment, as to the real 
existence of such thing ; on the contrary, the reference of the 
feeling to the thinking thing is taken as carrying with it the 
real existence of such thing. The question whether it really 
exists or no is only once raised, and then summarily settled 
by the sentence we have quoted, while the reality whether 
of existence or of essence on the part of the outward thing, as 
we have found to our cost, is the main burden of the Third 
and Fourth Books. 

' See above, paragmphs 26 and following, and 59 and following. 


144, In principle, indeed, the answer to both questions, as It ^nnot 
given by Locke, is the same : for the reasons which he alleges consis- 
for being assured of the ^existence of a thing without us teutiywith 
corresponding to the idea of sensation * reduce themselves, as doctrine o( 
we have seen, to the reiteration of that reference of the idea real exis- 
to a thing, which according to him is originallj involved in ^^^' 

it, and which is but the correlative of its reference to a sub- 
ject. This, however, is what he was not himself aware of. 
To him the outer and the inner substance were separate and 
independent things, for each of which the question of real 
existence had to be separately settled. To us, according to 
the view already indicated, it is the presence of self-conscious- 
ness, or thought as an object-to-itself, to feeling that converts 
it into a relation between feeling thing and felt thing, between 
' cogitative and incogitative substance.' The source of sub- 
stantiation upon each side being the same, the question as to 
the real existence of either substance must be the same, and 
equally so the answer to it. It is an answer that must be 
preceded by a counter question. — ^Does real existence mean 
existence independent of thought ? To suppose such existence 
is to suppose an impossibility — one which is not the less i^ 
though the existence be supposed material, if 'material' 
means in ' space ' and space itself is a relation constituted 
by the mind, ' bringing things to and setting them by one an- 
other.' Yet is the supposition itself but a mode of the logical 
substantiation we have explained, followed by an imaginary 
abstraction of the work of the mind from this, its own crea- 
tion. Does real existence mean a possible feeling? If so, it 
is as clear that what converts feeling into a relation between 
felt thing and feeling subject cannot in this sense be real, as 
it is that without such conversion no distinction between 
real aud fantastic would be possible. Does it, finally, mean 
individuality, in such a sense that unless I can say this or 
that is substance, thinking or material, substance does not 
really exist 9 If it does, the answer is that substance, being 
constituted by a relation by which self-conscious thought is 
for ever determining feelings, and which every predication 
represents, cannot be identified with any 'this or that,' 
though without it there could be no * this or that ' at all. 

145. We have already found that Locke accepts each of ignores 
the above as determinations of real existence, and that, though this in 
in spite of them he labours to maintain the real existence of [hTsp"?.** 


outward things, he is so far faithful to them as to declare 
real essence unknowable. In answering the question as to 
* his own existence ' he wholly ignores them. He does not 
ask how the real existence of the thinking Ego sorts with his 
ordinary doctrine that the real is what would be in the world 
whether there were a mind or no ; or its real identity, present 
throughout the particulars of experience, with his ordinary 
doctrine of the fictitiousness of * generals.' A real existence 
of the mind, however, founded on the logical necessity of 
substantiation, rests on a shifting basis, so long as by the 
mind is understood a thinking thing, different in each man, 
to which his inner experience is referred as accidents to a 
substance. The same law of thought which compels such 
reference requires that the thinking thing in its turn, as that 
which is born grows and dies, be referred as an accident to 
some ulterior substance. ^A fever or fall may take away my 
reason or memory, or both ; and an apoplexy leave neither 
sense nor understanding, no, nor life.' ^ Just as each outer 
thing turns out to be a ^ retainer to something else,' so is it 
with the inner thing. Such a dependent being cannot be an 
ultimate substance ; nor can any natural agents to which we 
may trace its dependence really be so either. The logical 
necessity of further substantiation would affect them equally, 
appearing in the supposition of an unknown something 
beyond, which makes them what they are. It is under such 
logical necessity that Locke, in regard to all the substances 
which he commonly speaks of as ultimate — God, spirit^ 
body — ^from time to time gives warning of something still 
ulterior and unknowable, whether under the designation of 
substance or real essence (Book ii. chap, xxiii. sees. 80 and 
86). If, then, it will be said, substance is but the constantly- 
shifting result of a necessity of thought — so shifting that 
there is nothing of which we can finally say, ^ This is sub- 
stance, not accident * — there can be no evidence of the * real 
existence ' of a permanent Ego in the necessary substantiation 
therein of my inner experience. 
Sense in 146. The first result of such a consideration in a reader of 

Mtf^i ^^ Locke will naturally be an attempt to treat the inner syn- 
iniijnftL thesis as a fiction of thought or figure of speech, and to 
confine real existence to single feelings in the moments of 
their occurrence. This, it will seem, is to be faithful to 

* Locko, Book iii. chap. yi. lec 4. 


Locke's own clearer mind, as it frequently emerges from the 
still-retoming cloud of scliolasticism. The final result will 
rather be the discovery that the single feeling is nothing rea.!, 
but that the synthesis of appearances, which alone for us con- 
stitutes reality, is neyer final or complete : that thus absolute 
reality, like ultimate substance, is never to be found by us — 
in a thinking as little as in a material thing — ^belonging as 
it does only to that divine self-consciousness, of which the 
presence in us is the source and bond of the ever-growing 
synthesis called knowledge, but which, because it is the 
scarce of that synthesis and not one of its partial results, 
is neither real nor knowable in the same sense as is any 
other object. It is this presence which alone gives meaning 
to * proofs of the being of God ;' to Locke's among the rest. 
For it is in a sense true, as he held, that 'my own real 
existence ' is evidence of the existence of God, since the self, 
in the only sense in which it is absolutely real or an ultimate 
subject, is already God.* 

147. Our knowledge of Gk)d's existence, according to him, Locke's 
is * demonstrative,' based on the * intuitive ' knowledge of P^^l^ 
our own. Strictly taken, according to his definitions, this existenc* 
must mean that the agreement of the idea of God with ex- o^ ^^' 
istenee is perceived mediately through the agreement of the 
idea of self with existence, which is perceived immediately ; 
that thus the idea of God and the idea of self * agree.' • We 
need not, however, further dwell either on the contradiction 
implied in the knowledge of real existence, if knowledge is a 
perception of agreement between ideas and if real existence 
is the antithesis of ideas ; or on the embarrassments which 
follow when a definition of reasoning, only really applicable 
to the comparison of quantities, is extended to other regions 
of knowledge. Locke virtually ignores his definitions in the 
passage before us. ^ If we know there is some real being ' 
(as we do know in the knowledge of our own existence) * and 
that non-entity cannot produce any real being, it is an evi- 
dent demonstration that from eternity there has been some- 
thing ; since what was not Irom eternity had a beginning, 
and what had a beginning must be produced by something 
else' (Book iv. chap. x. sec. 3). Next as to the quali- 
ties of this something else. 'What had its being and 
beginning from another must also have all that which 

> See below, pdiftgraph 162. * See above, parsgrat^ 25 and 24. 


is in, and belongs to, its being from another too ' (Ibid, 
sec. 4.). From this is deduced the supreme power and 
perfect knowledge of the eternal being upon the principle 
that whateyer is in the effect must also be in the cause 
The» — a principle, however, which has to be subjected to 
muBthaTe awkward limitations in order that, while proving enough, 
thing from it may not prove too much. It might seem that, accor- 
etornityto ^i^g ^o it, since the real being, from which as effect the 
now is. eternal being as cause is demonstrated, is ' both material and 
cogitative ' or * made up of body and spirit,' matter as well 
as thought must belong to the eternal being too. That 
thought must belong to him, Locke is quite clear. It is as 
impossible, he holds, that thought should be derived from 
matter, or from matter and motion together, as that some- 
thing should be derived fix)m nothing. * If we will suppose 
nothing first or eternal, matter can never begin to be ; if we 
suppose bare matter without motion eternal, motion can 
never begin to be : if we suppose only matter and motion 
first or eternal, thought can never begin to be * (Book iv. 
chap. X. sec. 10). The objection which is sure to occur, that 
it must be equally impossible for matter to be derived from 
thought, he can scarcely be said to face. He takes refuge in 
the supreme power of the eternal being, as that which is able 
to create matter out of nothing. He does not anticipate the 
rejoinder to which he thus lays himself open, that this power 
in the eternal being to produce one effect not homogeneous 
with itself, viz. matter, may extend to another effect, viz. 
thought, and that thus the argument from thought in the 
effect to thought in the cause becomes invalid, and nothing 
but blind power, we know not what, remains as the attribute 
of the eternal being. Nor does he remember, when he meets 
the objection drawn from the inconceivability of matter being 
made out of nothing by saying that what is inconceivable is 
not therefore impossible {ibid, sec. 19), that it is simply the 
inconceivability of a sequence of something upon nothing 
that has given him his ^evident demonstration * of an eternal 
How 148. The value of the first step in Locke's argument — the 

musrbe^' inference, namely, from there being something now to there 
undepstood having been something from eternity — must be differently 
if '*im«Bt estimated according to the meaning attached to * something* 
id to be and * from eternity.' If the existence of something means 
the occurrence of an event, of this undoubtedly it can always 


be said that it follows another event, nor to this sequence 
can any limit be supposed, for a first event wonld not be an 
event at all. It wonld be a contingency contingent upon 
nothing. Thus understood, the argument from a something 
now to a something from eternity is merely a statement of 
the infinity of time according to that notion of infinity, as a 
' progressus ad indefinitum,' which we have already seen to 
be Locke's.* It is the exact reverse of an argument to a 
creation or a first cause. K we try to change its character 
by a supplementary consideration that infinity in the series 
of events is inconceivable, the rejoinder will be that a first 
event is not for that reason any less of a contradiction, and 
that the infinity which Locke speaks of only professes to be 
a negative idea, representing the impossibility of conceiving 
a first event (Book n. chap. xvii. sec. 13, &c.)« In truth, 
however, when Locke speaks of * something from eternity ' 
he does not mean — what would clearly be no God at all — a 
series of events to which, because of evenU, and therefore 
in time, no limit can be supposed ; but a being which is 
neither event nor series of events, to which there is no before 
or after. The inference to such a being is not of a kind with 
the transition frx>m one event to another habitually asso- 
ciated with it ; and if this be the true account of reasoning 
from effect to cause, no such reasoning can yield the result 
which Locke requires. As we have seen, however, this is 
not his account of it,* however legitimately it may follow 
from his general doctrine. 

149. The inference of cause with him is the inference and how 
from a change to something having power to produce it.* '^^^' 
The value of this definition lies not in the notion of efficient 
power, but in that of an order of nature, which it involves. 
If instead of * something having power to produce it ' we 
read * something that accounts for the change,' it expresses 
the inference on which^ all science rests, but which is as far 
as possible from being merely a transition from one event to 
another that usually precedes it. An event, interpreted as 
a change of something that remains constant, is no longer a 
mere event. It is no longer merely in time, a present which 
next moment becomes a past. It takes its character from 
relation to the thing or system of things of which it is an 
altered appearance, but which in itself is always the same. 

' S«e abore, paragraph ] 38. ' Cf. n. chap. zzvi. sec. 1, and chap. 

* See abore, paragraph 68. xxi. sec. 1. 


Only in virtue of such a relation does it require to be 
accounted for, to be referred to a ' cause,' which is in truth 
the conception that holds together or reconciles the endless 
flux of events with eternal unity. The cause of a * pheno- 
menon,' even according to the authoritative exponent of the 
Logic which believes itself to follow Hume, is the *sum 
total of its conditions.' In its fulness, that is, it is simply 
that system of things, conceived explicitly, of which there 
must already have been an implicit conception in order that 
the event might be regarded as a change and thus start the 
search for a cause. An event in time, apart from reference 
to something not in time, could suggest no enquiry into the 
sum of its conditions. Upon occurrence of a certain feeling 
there might indeed be spontaneous recollection of a feeling 
usually precedent, spontaneous expectation of another 
Usually sequent. But such association of feelings can never 
explain that conception of cause in virtue of which, when 
accounting for a phenomenon, we set aside the event which 
in our actual experience has usually preceded it, for one 
which we only find to precede it in the single case of a 
crucial experiment. That we do so shows that it is not be- 
cause of antecedence in time, however apparently uniform, 
that an educated man reckons a certain event to be the 
cause of another, but that, because of its sole su£Sciency 
under the sum of known conditions to account for the given 
event, he decides it to be its uniform antecedent, however 
much ordinary appearances may tell to the contrary. Thus, 
though he may still strangely define cause as a uniformly 
antecedent event (in spite of its being a definition that would 
prevent him from speaking of gravity as the cause of the 
fall of a stone), it is clear that by such event he means one 
determined by a complex of conditions in an unchanging 
universe. These conditions, again, he may speak of as con- 
tingencies, i.e. as events contingent upon other events in 
endless series, but he must add ^ contingent in accordance 
with the uniformity of nature * — in other words, he must 
determine the contingencies by relation to what is not con- 
tingent ; he must suppose nature unchanging, though our 
experience of it through sensation be a ^ progressus ad inde- 
finitum ' — if he is to allow a possibility of knowledge at aU. 
In short, if events were merely events, feelings that happen 
to me now and next moment are over, no ' law of causation ' 


and therefore no knowledge would be possible. If the know- 
ledge founded on this law actually exists, then the ^ argumen- 
tum a contingeutii mundi' rightly understood — the * in- 
ference' from nature to a being neither in time nor 
contingent but self-dependent and eternal, that constant 
reality of which events are the changing appearances — is 
valid because the conception of nature, of a world to be 
known, already implies such a being. To the rejoinder that 
implication in the conception of nature does not prove real 
existence, the answer must be the question, What meaning 
has real existence, the antithesis of illusion, except such as 
is equivalent to this conception ? 

150. The value, then, of Locke's demonstration of the The world 
existence of Qod, as an argument from there being something J^^^^ *** 
now to an eternal being from which the real existence that an eternal 
we know * has all which is in and belongs to it,' depends ^ ™"r^ 
on our converting it into the * argumentum a contingentiA eteriwi. 
mundi,' stated as above. In other words, it depends on our 
interpreting it in a manner which may be warranted by his 
rough account of causation, and by one of the incompatible 

views of the real that we have found in him,^ but which is 
inconsistent with his opposition of reality to the work of the 
mind, and his reduction of it to ' particular existence,' as well 
as with his ordinary view that ' infinite ' and ^ eternal ' can 
represent only a *progressus ad indefinitum.' If by *real 
existence corresponding to an idea ' is meant its presentation 
in a particular ^ here and now,' an attempt to find a real 
existence of God can bring us to nothing but such a contra- 
diction in terms as a first event. To prove it from the real 
existence of the self is to prove one impossibility from another. 
If, on the other hand, real existence implies the determination 
of our ideas by an order of nature — if it means ideab *in ordine 
ad nniversum ' (to use a Baconian phrase), in distinction fit)m 
* in ordine ad nos ' — ^then the argument from a present to an 
eternal real existence is valid, but simply in the sense that 
the present is already real, and ^ has all that is in and belongs 
to it,' only in virtue of the relation to the eternal. 

151. This, it may be said, is to vindicate Locke's ^ proof ' Batviii 
only by making it Pantheistic. It gives us an eternity of ^^^ ^^' 
nature, but not God. Our present concern, however, is not istenoe is 
with tiie distinction between Pantheism and true Theism, fop«>j;en* 

' be a thmk- 
' See aboTe, paragraphs 49 and 91. ing being? 




Yes, ac- 
cording to 
the true 
notion of 
the rela- 
tion be- 

but with the exposition of Locke's doctrine according to the 
only development by which it can be made to show the real 
existence of an eternal being at all. It is only by making 
the most of certain Cartesian elements that appear in his 
doctrine, irreconcileable with its general purport, that we can 
find fair room in it for such a being, even as the system of 
nature. Any attempt to exhibit (in Hegelian phrase) * Spirit 
as the truth of nature,* would be to go wholly beyond our 
record; yet without this the ^ens realissimum' cannot be 
the God whose existence Locke believes himself to prove — a 
thinhing being from whom matter and motion are derived, 
but in whom they are not. It is true that, according to the 
context, it is the real existence of the self from which that of 
the eternal being is proved. This is because, in the Fourth 
Book, where the 'proof* occurs, following the new train of 
enquiry started by the definition of knowledge, Locke has 
for the time left in abeyance his fundamental doctrine that 
all simple ideas are types of reality, and is writing as if ' my 
own real existence * were the only one known with intuitive 
certainty. This, however, makes no essential difference in 
the effect of his argument. "The given existence, from which 
the divine is proved, is treated expressly as both ' material 
and cogitative :' nor, since according to Locke the world is 
both and man is both, and even the 'thinking thing' takes 
its content from impressions made by matter, could it be 
otherwise. To have taken thought by itself as the basis of 
the proof would have been to leave the other part of the 
world, as he conceived it, to be referred to another God. 
The difficulty then arises, either that there is no inference 
possible from the nature of the effect to the nature of the 
eternal being, its cause ; in which case no attribute whatever 
can be asserted of the latter: or that to it too, like the effect, 
matter as well as thought must belong. 

152. As we have seen, neither of these alternative views is 
really met by Locke. To the former we may reply that the 
relation between two events, of which neither has anything 
in common with the other, but which we improperly speak 
of as effect and cause (e.g. death and a sunstroke), has no 
likeness to that which we have explained between the woild 
in its contingency and the world as an eternal system — a 
relation according to which the cause is the effect in unity. 
Whatever is part of the reality of the world must belong, it 


would seem, to the ' ens realissimam/ its cause. We are 
thus thrown back on the other horn of the dilemma. Is not 
matter part of the realiiy of the world ? This is a question 
to which the method of observing the individual consciousness 
can give none but a delusive answer. A true answer cannot 
be given till for this method has been substituted the enquiry, 
How knowledge is possible, and it has been found tliat it is 
only possible as the progressive actualisation in us of a self- 
consciousness in itself complete, and which in its completeness 
includes the world as its object. From the point of view thus 
attained the question as to matter will be. How is it related 
to this self-consciousness ? — a question to which the answer 
must vary according to what is understood by * matter.* If 
it means the abstract opposite of thought — that which is sup- 
posed void of all determination that comes of thinking — ^we 
must pronounce it simply a delusion, the creation of self-con- 
sciousness in one stage of its communication to us. If it 
means the world as in space and time, this we may allow to be 
real enough as a stage in the process by which self-conscious- 
ness constitutes realiiy. Thus understood, we may speak of it 
roughly as part of the ' ens reaJissimum' which the complete 
self-consciousness, or God, includes as its object, without any 
limitation of the divine perfectness. The limitation only 
seems to arise so far as we, being ourselves (as our knowledge 
and morality testify), though formally self-conscious, yet 
parts of this partial world, interpret it amiss and ascribe to it 
a reality, in abstraction from the self-conscious subject, which 
it only derives from relation to it. Thus while on the one * 
hand it is the presence in us of God, as the self-conscious 
source of reali^, that at once gives us the idea of God and of 
an eternal self, and renders superfluous the further question 
as to their real existence ; on the other hand it is because, 
for all this presence, we are but emerging from nature, of 
which as «.Tiimft1fl we are parts, that to us there must seem 
an incompatibility of existence between God and matter, 
between the self and the flux of events which makes our 
life. This necessary illusion is our bondage, but when the 
source of illusion is known, the bondage is already being 

158. We have now sufficiently explored the system which Locke'san- 
it was Hume's mission to try to make consistent with itself. Hume**^ 
We have found that it is governed throughout by the anti- takes one. 

K 2 


side of thesis between what is given to consciousness — that in regard 
tro™ '* ^ which the mind is passive — as the supposed real on the 
one side, and what is * invented,' * created,* * superinduced * 
by the mind on the other : while yet this * real ' in all its 
forms, as described by Locke, has turned out to be consti- 
tuted by such ideas as, according to him, are not given but 
invented. Stripped of these superinductions, nothing has 
been found to remain of it but that of which nothing can be 
'.said — a chaos of unrelated, and therefore unmeaning, mdi- 
vidua. Turning to the theory of the mind itself, the source 
of the superinduction, we have found this to be a reduplica- 
tion of the prolonged inconsistency which forms the theory 
of the * real.' It impresses itself with that which, according 
to the other theory, is the impress of matter, and it really 
exists as that which it itself invents. The value of Hume's 
philosophy lies in its being an attempt to carry out the anti- 
thesis more rigorously — to clear the real, whether under the 
designation of mind or of its object, of all that could not be 
reckoned as given in feelings which occur to us * whether we 
will or no.' The consequence is a splendid failure, a failure 
which it might have been hoped would have been taken as a 
sufficient proof that a theory, which starts from that anti- 
thesis, cannot even be stated without implicitly contradicting 
Hume's 154. Such a doctrine — a doctrine founded on the testimony 

fouo'toT ^^*^® senses, which ends by showing that the senses testify to 
own pre- nothing — cannot be criticised step by step according to the 
order in which its author puts it, for its characteristic is that, 
in order to state itself, it has to take for granted popular 
notions which it afterwards shows to be unmeaning. Its power 
over ordinary thinkers lies just in this, that it arrives at its 
destructive result by means of propositions which every one 
believes, but to the validity of which its result is really fatal. 
An account of our primitive consciousness, which derives its 
plausibility from availing itself of the conceptions of cause 
and substance, is the basis of the argument which reduces 
these conceptions to words misunderstood. It cannot, there- 
fore, be treated by itself, as it stands in the first part of the 
Treatise on the Understanding, but must be taken in con- 
nection with Part FV., especially with the section on * Scep- 
ticism with regard to the Senses ; ' not upon the plan of dis- 
crediting a principle by reference to the * dangerous ' nature 



of its conseqaences, but because the final doctrine brings out This 
the inconsistencies lurking in that assumed to begin with. ^^^ 
On this side of his scepticism Hume mainly followed the Berkeley. 
orthodox Berkeley, of whose criticism of Locke, made with 
a very different purpose, some account must first be given. 
The connection between the two authors is instructiYe in 
many ways ; not least as showing that when the most pious 
theological purpose expresses itself in a doctrine resting on 
an inadequate philosophical principle, it is the principle and 
not the purpose that will regulate the permanent effect of 
the doctrine. 

156. Berkeley's treatises, we must remember, though pro- Berkeley't 
fessedly philosophical, really form a theological polemic. He "^gt*^ 
wrote as the champion of orthodox Christianity against making 
* mathematical atheism,' and, like others of his order, content J^®,^°* 
with the demolition of the rival stronghold, did not stay to 
enquire whether his own untempered mortar could really 
hold together the fabric of knowledge and rational religion 
which he sought to maintain. He found practical ungodli- 
ness and immorality excusing themselves by a theory of * ma- 
terialism * — a theory which made the whole conscious expe- 
rience of man dependent upon * unperceiving matter.' This, 
whatever it might be, was not an object which man could 
love or reverence, or to which he could think of himself as 
accountable. Berkeley, full of devout zeal for Grod and man, 
and not without a tincture of clerical party-spirit (as appears 
in his heat against Shaftesbury, whom he ought to have re- 
garded as a philosophical yoke-fellow), felt that it must be 
got rid of. He saw, or thought he saw, that the * new way 
of ideas ' had only to be made consistent with itself, and the 
oppressive shadow must vanish. Ideas, according to that 
new way (or, to speak less ambiguously, feelings) make up 
our experience, and they are not matter. Let us get rid, 
then, of the self-contradictory assumption that they are either 
copies of matter — copies of that, of which it is the sole and 
simple differentia that it is not an idea, or its effects — 
effects of that which can only be described as the unknown 
opposite of the only efficient power with which we are ac- 
quainted — and what becomes^ of the philosopher's blind and 
dead substitute for the living and knowing Ood P It was 
one thing, however, to show the contradictions involved in 
Locke's doctrine of matter, another effectively to replace 


it. To the latter end Berkeley cannot be said to have made 
any permanent contribution. That explicit reduction of 
ideas to feelings * particular in time/ which was his great 
weapon of destruction, was incompatible with his doing sOs 
He adds nothing to the philosophy, which he makes con- 
sistent with itself, while by making it consistent he empties 
it of three parts of its suggestiveness. His doctrine, in short, 
is merely Locke purged, and Locke purged is no Locke. 
WHat if X56, The question which he mainly dealt with may be stated 

relation of ^^ general terms as that of the relation between the mind and 
mind and the external world. Under this general statement, however, 
°**^^' are covered several distinct questions, the confusion between 
which has been a great snare for philosophers — questions as 
to the relations (a) between a sensitive and non-sensitive 
body, {b) between tiiiought and its object, (c) between thought 
and something only qualified as the negation of thought. 
The last question, it will be observed, is what the second 
becomes upon a certain notion being formed of what the 
object of thought must be. Upon this notion being discarded 
a further question ((2), also covered by the above general 
statement, must still remain as to the relation between 
thought, as in each man, and the world which he does not 
make, but which, in some sort, makes him what he is. In 
what follows, these questions, for the sake of brevity, will be 
referred to symbolically. 
Confuaioiii 157. Locke*s doctrine of matter, as we have seen, involves 
LwWs^*" a confusion between (a) and (ft). The feeling of touch in 
material- virtue of an intellectual interpretation — intdUctuaX because 
""^ implying the action of the mind as (according to Locke) the 

source of ideas of relation — becomes the idea of solidity, t.6. 
the idea of a relation between bodies in the way of impulse 
and resistance. But the function of the intellect in con- 
stituting the relation is ignored. Under cover of the 
ambiguous ' idea,' which stands alike for a nervous irrita- 
tion and the intellectual interpretation thereof, the feeling 
of touch and conception of solidity are treated as one and the 
same. Thus the irue cmicewed outwardness of body to body 
— an outwardness which thought, as the source of relations, 
can alone constitute — becomes first an imaginary /aZ^ out- 
wardness of body to the organs of touch, and then, by a 
further fallacy — these organs being confused with the mind 
— an outwardness of body to mind, which we need only kick 


a stone to be sore of. Meanwhile the consideration of 
question {d) necessitates the belief that the real world does 
not come and go with each man's fleeting consciousness, 
and no distinction being recognised between consciousness 
as fleeting and consciousness as permanent^ or between feel- 
ing and thought, the real world comes to be regarded as the 
absolute opposite of thought and its work. This opposition 
combines with the supposed externality of body to mind to 
give the notion that body is the real. The qualities which 
* the mind finds inseparable from body ' thus become quali- 
ties which would exist all the same ^ whether there were a 
perceiving mind or no/ and are primarily real ; while such as 
consist in our feelings, though real in so far as, * not being of 
our own making, they imply the action of things without 
us,' are yet only secondarily so because this action is relative 
to something which is not body. Then, finally, by a re- 
newed confusion of the relation between thought and its 
object with that between body and body, qualities, which are 
credited with a primary reality as independent of and anti- 
thetical to the mind, are brought within it again as ideas. 
They are supposed to copy themselves upon it by impact and 
impression ; and that not in touch merely, but (visual feel- 
ings being interpreted by help of the same conception) in 
sight also. 

158. Such * materialism ' invites two different methods of Two ways 
attack. On the one hand its recognised principle, that all ^^®^^"^ 
intellectual * superinduction * upon simple feeling is a de- Berkeley 
parture from the real, may be insisted on, and it may be chooses the 
shown that it is only by such superinduction that simple obvious. 
feeling becomes a feeling of body. Matter, then, with all 
its qualities, is a fiction except so far as these can be re- 
duced to simple feelings. Such in substance was Berkeley's 
short method with the materialists. In his early life it 
seemed to him sufficient for the purposes of orthodox 
'spiritualism,' because, having posed the materialist, he 
took the moral and spiritual attributes of God as ^ revealed,' 
without enquiring into the possibility of such revelation to 
a merely sensitive consciousness. As he advanced, other 
questions, fatal to the constructive value of his original 
method, began to force themselves upon him. Granting 
that intellectual superinduction = fiction, how is the fiction 
possible to a mind which cannot originate ? Exclude from 



reality all that such fiction constitutes, and what remains to 

be real ? These questions, however, though their eflFect on 

his mind appears in the later sections of his * Siris,' he never 

systematically pursued. He thus missed the true method 

of attack on materialism — ^the only one that does not build 

again that which it destroys — the method which allows that 

/ matter is real but only so in virtue of that intellectual super- 

/ induction upon feeling without which there could be for us 

i / no reality at all : that thus it is indeed opposed to thought, 

\bnt only by a position which is thought's own act. For the 

development of such views Berkeley had not patience in his 

youth nor leisure in his middle life. Whatever he may have 

suggested, all that he logically achieved was an exposure of 

the equivocation between feeling and felt body ; and of this 

the next result, as appears in Hume, was a doctrine which. 

indeed delivers mind from dependence on matter, but only 

by reducing it in effect to a succession of feelings which 

cannot know themselves. 

His ac- 15^' I^ "^^ upon the extension of the metaphor of impres- 

count of sion to sight as well as touch, and the consequent notion 

tion^' *^^* body, with its inseparable qualities, revealed itself 

tween through both senses, that Berkeley first fastened. Is it 

tanribie"^ evident, as Locke supposed it to be, that men * perceive by 

their sight' not colours merely, but *a distance between 

bodies of different colours and between parts of the same 

body ' 5 ' in other words, situation and magnitude P To 

show that they do not is the purpose of Berkeley's * Essay 

towards a new Theory of Vision.' He starts from two 

principles which he takes as recognised : one, that the 

♦ proper and immediate object of sight is colour'; the other, 
that distance from the eye, or distance in the line of vision, 
is not immediately seen. If, then, situation and magnitude 
are * properly and immediately * seen, they must be qualities 
of colour. Now in one sense, according to Berkeley, they are 
so : in other words, there is such a thing as visible extension. 
We see lights and colours in * sundry situations * as well as 

* in degrees of faintness and clearness, confusion and dis- 
tinctness.' {Theory of Vision^ sec. 77.) We also see objects 
ajs made up of certain * quantities of coloured points,' t.e. 
as having visible magnitude. (Ibid. sec. 54.) But situation 

* Locke, Essay n* chap> ziii* sec. 2. 


and magnitude as visible are not extemal, not ^ qualities of We do no 
body,* nor do they represent by any necessary connection the ^*th(mt*"* 
situation and magnitude that are truly qualities of body, the mind. 
' without the mind and at a distance.' These are tangible. 
Distance in all its forms — as distance from the eye ; as dis- 
tance between parts of the same body, or magnitude ; and as 
distance of body from body, or situation — is tangible. What 
a man means when he says that ^ he sees this or that thing 
at a distance ' is that ^ what he sees suggests to his under- 
standing that after having passed a_gertftiJOL.diHta.ure, to be 
measured by tEe^otion .of his body which is perceivable by 
touch, lie~ shall come to perceive such and such tangible 
Ideas which have been usually connected with such and such 
visible ideas ' (Ibid. sec. 45). On the same principle we are 
said^to see the magnitude and situation of bodies. Owing 
to long experience of the connection of these tangible ideas 
with visible ones, the magnitude of the latter and their 
degrees of faintness and clearness, of confusion and distinct- 
ness, enable us to form a ' sudden and true ' estimate of the 
magnitude of the former {i.e. of bodies) ; even as visible 
situation enables us to form a like estimate of the ' situa- 
tion of things outward and tangible' (Ibid. sees. 56 and 99). 
The connection, however, between the two sets of ideas, 
Berkeley insists, is habitual only, not necessary. As Hume 
afterwards said of the relation of cause and effect, it is not 
constituted by the nature of the ideas related.' The visible 
ideas, that as a matter of fact ^ suggest to us the various 
magnitudes of external objects before we touch them, might 
have suggested no such thing.' That would really have been 
the case had our eyes been so framed as that the maximum 
visibile should be less than the minimv/m tangibile ; and, as 
a matter of constant experience, the greater visible extension 
suggests sometimes a greater, sometimes a loss, tangible ex* 
tension according to the degree of its strength or faintness, 
^ being in its own nature equally fitted to bring into our minds 
the idea of small or great or no size at all, just as the words 
of a language are in their own nature indifferent to signify 
this or that thing, or nothing at all.' (Ibid. sees. 62-64;) 

160. So far, then, the conclusion merely is that body as dot jet 
external, and space as a relation between bodies or parts of ^^^ ^^^'^ 
a body, are not both seen and felt, but felt only ; in other 

> See below, paragraph 283. 


The * esse' words, that it is only through the organs of touch that we 
the^'*TOi>' receive, strictly speaking, impressions from without. Thin 
dpi.' is all that the Essay on Vision goes to show ; but according 

to the 'Principles of Human Knowledge' this conclusion 
was merely provisional. The object of touch does not, any 
more than the object of sight, ^ exist without the mind,' nor 
is it ' the image of an external thing.' ^ In strict truth the 
ideas of sight, when by them we apprehend distance and 
things placed at a distance, do not suggest or mark out to 
us things actually existing at a distance, but only admonish 
us what ideas of. touch will be imprinted in our minds at 
such and such distances of time, and in consequence of such 
and such actions ' (* Principles of H. K.' sec. 44). Whether, 
then, we speak of visible or tangible objects, the object w the 
idea, its ' esse is the percipi.' Body is not a thing separate 
from the idea of touch, yet revealed by it; so far as it exists 
at all, it must either be that idea or be a succession of ideas 
of which that idea is suggestive. It follows that the notion 
of the real which identifies it with matter, as something ex- 
ternal to and independent of consciousness, and which derives 
the reality of ideas from their relation to body as thus out- 
ward, must disappear. Must not, then, the distinction be- 
tween the real and fantastic, betvreen dreams and facts, 
disappear with it? What meaning is there in asking 
whether any given idea is real or not, unless a reference is 
implied to something other than the idea itself? 
What then 170. Berkeley's theory, no less than Locke's, requires such 
becomes of reference. He insists, as much as Locke does, on the diflfer- 
between°° eucc between ideas of imagination which do, and those of 
reality and sense which do not, depend on our own will. * It is no 
^ more than willing, and straightway this or that idea arises 

in my fancy ; ahd by the same power it is obliterated and 
makes way for another.' But *when in broad daylight I 
open my eyes, it is not in my power to choose whether I 
shall see or no, or to determine what particular objects shall 
present themselves to my view.' Moreover *the ideas of 
sense are more strong, lively, and distinct than those of the 
imagination; they have likewise a steadiness, order, and 
coherence, and are not excited at random as those which are 
the effects of human wills often are, but in a regular train 
and series' (Ibid. sees. 28-30). These characteristics of 
ideas of sense, however, do not with Berkeley, any more than 


with Locke, properly speaking, constitute their reality. This 
lies in their relation to something else, of which these cha- 
racteristics are the tests. The diflference between the two 
writers lies in their several views as to what this * something 
else ' is. With Locke it was body or matter, as proximately, 
though in subordination to the Divine Will, the * imprinter ' 
of those most lively ideas which we cannot make for our- 
selves. His followers insisted on the proximate, while they 
ignored the ultimate, reference. Hence, as Berkeley con- 
ceived, their Atheism, which he could cut from under their feet 
by the simple plan of eliminating the proximate reference 
altogether, and liius showing that Gk>d, not matter, is the im- 
mediate ^ imprinter ' of ideas on the senses and the suggester 
of such ideas of imagination as the ideas of sense, in virtue of 
habitual association, constantly introduce (Ibid. sec. 33). 

171. To eliminate the reference to matter might seem to Theieal-a 
be more easy than to substitute for it a reference to God. q^ ^ ** 
If the object of the idea is only the idea itself, does not all causea. 
determination by relation logically disappear from the idea, 
except (perhaps) such as consists in the fact of its sequence 

or antecedence to other ideas 9 This issue was afterwards to 
be tried by Hume — ^with what consequences to science and 
religion we shall see. Berkeley avoids it by insisting that 
the * percipi,' to which * esse * is equivalent, implies reference . 
to a mind. At first sight this reference, as common to all 
ideas alike, would not seem to avail much as a basis either 
for a distinction between the real and fantastic or for any 
Theism except such as would ' entitle Grod to all our fancies.' 
If it is to serve Berkeley's purpose, we must suppose the idea 
to carry with it not merely a relation to mind but a relation 
to it as its effect, and the conscious subject to carry with 
him such a distinction between his own mind and God's as 
leads him to refer his ideas to God's mind as their cause when 
they are lively, distinct and coherent, but when they are other- 
wise, to his own. And this, in substance, is Berkeley's sup- 
{K)8ition. To show the efficient power of mind he appeals to ^ 
our consciousness of ability to produce at will ideas of im- 
agination ; to show that there is a divine mind, distinct j 
from our own, he appeals to our consciousness of inability to / 
. produce ideas of sense. j^ j^ ^i^^ 

172. Even those least disposed to Vanquish Berkeley with aracces- 
a grin ' have found his doctrine of the real, which is also his f^^^ ^ 


doctrine of God, * nnsatisfiactory.' By the real world they 
are accustomed to understand something which — at least in 
respect of its * elements * or * conditions * or * laws * — ^perma- 
nently is; though the combinations of the elements, the 
events which flow from the conditions, the manifestations of 
the laws, may never be at one time what they will be at the 
next. But according to the Berkeleian doctrine the perma- 
nent seems to disappear : the ' is ' gives place to a ' has 
been ' and * will be.' If I say {Seitcruc&s) * there is a body,' I 
must mean according to it that a feeling has just occurred 
to me, which has been so constantly followed by certain other 
feelings that it suggests a lively expectation of these. The 
suggestive feeling alone is, and it is ceasing to be. If this is 
the true account of propositions suggested by everyone's 
constantly-recurrent experience, what are we to make of 
scientific truths, 0.g. * a body will change its place sooner 
than let another enter it,' ^ planets move in ellipses,' ' the 
square on the hypotheneuse is equal to the squares on the 
sides.' In these cases, too, does the present reality lie 
merely in a feeling experienced by this or that scientific man, 
and to him suggestive of other feelings ? Does the proposi- 
tion that ^planets move in ellipses' mean that to some 
watcher of the skies, who understands Kepler's laws, a cer- 
tain perception of * visible extension ' (i.e. of colour or light 
and shade) not only suggests, as to others, a particular 
expectation of other feelings, which expectation is called a 
planet, but a further expectation, not shared by the multitude, 
of feelings suggesting successive situations of the visible ex- 
tension, which further expectation is called elliptical motion? 
Such an explanation of general propositions would be a form 
of the doctrine conveniently named after Protagoras— 'aX.»?dw 
5 iKocrrip iKooTora ioKaV — a doctrine which the vindicators 
of Berkeley are careful to tell us we must not confound with 
his. The question, however, is not whether Berkeley him- 
self admits the doctrine, but whether or no it is the logical 
consequence of the method which he uses for the overthrow 
of materialists and ^ mathematical Atheists ' P 
Berkeley 173. His purpose was the maintenance of Theism, and- a 
^^^^ *ru6 instinct told him that pure Theism, as distinct from 
fusion nature-worship and dsemonism/ has no philosophical founda- 
thoo^t ^0Hy unless it can be shown that there is nothing real apart 
and feel- from thought. But in the hurry of theological advocacy, 


and under the influence of a misleading terminology, he 
fidled to distinguish this true proposition — ^there is nothing 
real apart from thought — from this false one, its virtual 
contradictory — ^there is nothing other than feeling. The 
confusion was coyered, if not caused, by the ambiguity, often 
noticed, in the use of the term * idea.' This to Berkeley's 
generation stood alike for feeling proper, which to the subject 
that merely feels is neither outer nor inner, because not re- 
ferring itself to either mind or thing, and for conception, or 
an object thought of under relations. According to Locke, 
pain, colour, solidity, are all ideas equally with each other and 
equally with the idea of pain, idea of colour, idea of solidity. 
If all alike, however, wore feelings proper, there would be no 
world either to exist or be spoken of. Locke virtually saves it 
by two suppositions, each incompatible with the equivalence 
of idea to feeling, and implying the conversion of it into con- 
ception as above defined. One is that there are abstract ideas ; 
the other that there are primary qualities of which ideas are 
copies, but which do not come and go with our feelings. The 
latter supposition gives a world that 'i-eally exists,' the former 
a world that may be known and spoken of; but neither can 
maintain itself without a theory of conception which is not 
forthcoming in Locke himself. We need not traverse again 
the contradictions which according to his statement they 
involve — contradictions which, under whatever disguise, must 
attach to every philosophy that admits a reality either in PorLocke't 
things as apart from thought or in thought as apart from ' idea of a 
things, and only disappear when the thing as thought of, and gXtitu^ea 
through thought individualised by the relations which consti- 'idea' 
tute its community with the universe, is recognised as alone "™W 
the real Misled by the phrase ' idea of a thing,' we fancA 
that idea and thing have each a separate reality of their own J| 
and then puzzle ourselves with questions as to how the idea/ 
can represent the thing — how the ideas of primary qualities 
can be copies of them, and how, if the real thing of experience 
be merely individual, a general idea can be.abstracted from 
it. These questions Berkeley asked and found unanswerable. 
'TTBere were then two ways of dealing with them before him. 
One was to supersede them by a truer view of thought and 
its object, as together in essential correlation constituting the 
real; but this way he did not take. The other was to avoid 
them by merging both thing aud idea in the indifference of 



Which, if 
idea » feel- 
ing, dyea 
away with 
■pace and 

He does 
not even 
them as 
' abstract 

simple feeling. For a merely sentient being, it is true — for 
one who did not think upon his feelings — the oppositions of 
inner and outer, of subjective and objective, of fentastic and 
real, would not exist ; but neither would knowledge or a 
world to be known. That such oppositions, misunderstood, 
may be a heavy burden on the human spirit, the experience 
of current controversy and its spiritual effects might alone 
suffice to convince us ; but the philosophical deliverance can 
only lie in the recognition of thought as their author, not in 
the attempt to obliterate them by the reduction of thought 
and its world to feeling — ^an attempt which contradicts itself, 
since it virtually admits their existence while it renders them 

174. That Berkeley's was such an attempt, looking merely 
to his treatment of primary qualities and abstract ideas, we 
certainly could not doabt : though, since language does not 
allow of its consistent statement, and Berkeley was quite 
ready to turn the exigencies of language to account, passages 
logically incompatible with it may easily be found in him. 
The hasty reader, when he is told that body or distance are_ 
suggested by feelings of sight and touch rather than immedi- 
ately" seen, accepts the"3octrine without scruple, because he 
supposes that which is suggested to be a present reality, 
though not at present felt. But if not at present felt it is 
not according to Berkeley an idea, therefore * without the 
mind,' therefore an impossibility.^ That which is suggested, 
then, must itself be a feeling which consists in the expecta- 
tion of other feelings. Distance, and body, as suggested^ can be 
no more than such an expectation ; and as actually existing, 
no more than the actual succession of the expected feelings — 
a succession of which, as of every succession, * no two parts 
exist together.' ' There is no time, then, at which it can be 
said that distance and body exist. 

175. This, it may seem, however inconsistent with the 
doctrine of primary qualities, is little more than the result 
which Locke himself comes to in his Fourth Book ; since, if 
* actual present Buccession' forms our only knowledge of real 
existence, there could be no time at which distance and body 
might be hnoivn as really existing. But Locke, as we have 

' Reference is here merely made to and ' relations * as objects of knowledge 

the doctrine by which Berkeley disposes being postponed, 
of ' matter,' the consideration of its re- ' Locke, Book ii. cliap. xt. see. 1. 

ooDcilability with his doctrine of 'spirits' 


seen, is able to save mathematical, though not physical, know- 
ledge from the consequences of this admission by his doctrine 
of abstract ideas — ^ ideas removed in our thoughts from parti- 
cular existence* — whose agreement or disagreement is stated 
in propositions which * concern not existence,' and for that 
reason may be general without becoming either uncertain or 
unlnstructiYe. This doctrine Berkeley expressly rejects on 
the ground that he could not perceive separately that which 
could not exist separately (* Principles of Human Knowledge,' 
Introduction, sec. 10) ; a ground which to the ordinary reader 
seems satisfactory because he has no doubt, and Berkeley's 
instances do not suggest a doubt, as to the present existence 
of * individual objects ' — this man, this horse, this body. But 
with Berkeley to exist means to be felt (^ Principles of Human 
Knowledge,' sec. 3), and the feelings, which I name a body, 
being successive, its existence must be in succession likewise. 
The limitation, then, of possibility of * conception' by x>ossi- 
bility of existence, means that * conception,' too, is reduced 
to a succession of feelings. 

176. Berkeley, then, as a consequence of the methods by Onthe 
which he disposes at once of the *real existence ' and * abstract "f™® P^"" 
idea of matter,' has to meet the following questions : — How p^^ent 
are either reality or knowledge possible without permanent 'f^**{2°?. 
relations? and. How can feelings, of which one is over before appear. 
the next begins, constitute or represent a world of permanent 
relations? The difficulty becomes more obvious, tiiough not 
more serious, when the relations in question are not merely 
themselves permanent, as are those between natural pheno- 
mena, but are relations between permanent parts like those of 
space. It is for this reason that its doctrine of geometry is the 
most easily assailable point of the ^ sensational ' philosophy. 
Locke distinguishes the ideas of space and of duration as 
got, the one from the permanent parts of space, the other 
*from the fleeting and perpetually perishing parts of succes- 
sion.' * He afterwards prefers to oppose the term ' expansion' 
to * duration,' as bringing out more clearly than * space ' the 
opposition of relation between permanent facts to that be- 
tween * fleeting successive facts which never exist together.* 
How, then, can a consciousness, consisting simply of * fleeting 
successive facts,' either be or represent that of which the 
differentia is that its £B.cts are permanent and co- exist? 

' Book IT. chap. xiy. sec. 1. 



By mftking 177. This crucial question in regard to extension does not 
reiwionsof ^^™ ®^®^ ^ ^^^^ Suggested itself to Berkeley. The reason 
coloured why is not fer to seek. Professor Fraser, in his valuable 
Berkeley e<lltion, represents him as meaning by visible extension 
represents * coloured experience in sense/ and by tangible extension 
relation as t resistent experience in sense.' * No fault can be found with 
this interpretation, but the essential question, which Berkeley 
does not fSeiirly meet, is whether the experience in each case 
is complete in a single feeling or consists in a succession of 
feelings. If in a single feeling, it clearly is not extension, as 
a relation between parts, at all ; if in a succession of feelings, 
it is only extension because a synthetic principle, which is 
not itself one of the feelings, but equally present to them all, 
transforms them into permanent parts of which each quali- 
fies the other by outwardness to it. Berkeley does not see 
the necessity of such a principle, because he allows himself 
to suppose extension — at any rate visible extension — to be 
constituted by a single feeling. Having first pronounced that 
the proper object of sight is colour, he quietly substitutes for 
this situations of colour, degrees of strength and faintness in 
colour, and quantities of coloured points, as if these, inter- 
changeably with mere colour, were properly objects of sight 
and perceived in single acts of vision. Now if by object of 
sight were meant something other than the sensation itself — 
something which to a thinking being it suggests as its cause 
— ^there woidd be no harm in this language, but neither 
would there be any ground for saying that the proper object 
of sight is colour, for distinguishing visible from tangible 
extension, or for denying that the outwardness of body to 
body is seen. Such restrictions and distinctions have no 
meaning, unless by sight is meant the nervous irritation, 
the affection of the visual organ, as it is to a merely feeling 
subject ; yet in the very passages where he makes them, by 
saying that we see situations and degrees of colour, and quan- 
tities of coloured points, Berkeley converts sight into a judg- 
ment of extensive and intensive quantity. He thus fails to 
discern that the transition from colour to coloured extension 
cannot be made without on the one hand either the presen- 

' See Erasei^B Berkeley, ' Theory of otherwise haye thonght necessary, be- 

Virion/ note 42. I may here say that cause Professor Eraser has supplied, in 

I haye gone into less detail in my ac^ the way of explanation of it, all that a 

ooant of Berkeley's syatem than I should student can require. 



tation of sticcessiye pictures or (whicli comes to the same) 
successive acts of attention to a single picture, and on the 
other hand a synthesis of the suecessive presentations as mu- 
tuallj qualified parts of a whole. In other words, he ignores 
the work of thought involved in the constitution alike of 
coloured and tangible extension, and in virtue of which alone 
either is extension at all* 

178. But though he does not scruple to substitute for colour SfcQl he 
situations and quantities of coloured points, these do not with ^^^jg*^** 
him constitute space, which he takes according to Locke's constituted 
account of it to be * distance between bodies or parts of the ^^ ^ '^^* 
same body.' This, according to his * Theory of Vision,' is feelings. 
tangible extension, and this again is alone the object of geo- 
metry. As in that treatise a difference is still supposed between 
tangible extension and the feeling of touch, the question does 
not there necessarily arise whether the tactual experience, that 
constitutes this extension, is complete in a single feeling or 
only in a succession of feelings ; but when in the subse- 
quent treatise the difference is effaced, it is decided by impli- 
cation that the experience is successive : ^ and all received 
modifications of the theory, which assign to a locomotive or 
muscular sense the office which Berkeley roughly assigned to 
touch, make the same implication still more clearly. Now in 
the absence of any recognition of a synthetic principle, in 
relation to which the successive experience becomes what it 
is not in itself, this means nothing else than that space is a 
succession of feelings, which again means that space is not 
space, not a qualification of bodies or parts of body by mutual 
externality, since to such qualification it is necessary that 
bodies or their parts coexist. Thus, in his hurry to get rid 
of externality as independence of the mind, he has really got 
rid of it as a relation between bodies, and in so doing (how- 
ever the result may be disguised) has logically made a clean 
sweep of geometry and physics. 

179. Of this result he himself shows no suspicion. He if so, it is 

professes to be able, without violence to his doctrine, to accept "°^f,P*^ 

the sciences as they stand, except so far as they rest upon Berkeley 

the needless and unmeaning assumptions (as he reckoned thinks it is 

only not 

' * Principles of Hnman Knowledge/ able, this may have helped to disguise ' P^^' 

flflc 44. It will be observed that in from him the fall monstrosity of the *P<^^ 

that passage Berkeley uses the term doctrine, ' space is a succession of feel- 

* distance,' not ' space,' and though with ings,' which, stated in that form, must 

him the terms are strictly interchange- surely have scandalised him. 

VOL. I. L 


Space and them) of f^e space and its infinite divisibility. The troth 
Sm/ot** seems to be that— at any rate in the state of mind represented 
fell by his earlier treatises — ^he was only able to work on the lines 

logethop. which Locke had laid. It did not occur to him to treat the 
primary qualities as relations constituted by thought, because 
Locke had not done so. Locke having treated them as ex- 
ternal to the mind, Berkeley does so likewise, and for that 
reason feels that they must be got rid of. The mode of rid- 
dance, again, was virtually determined for him by Locke. 
Locke having admitted that they copied themselves in feelings, 
the untenable element in this supposition had only to be 
dropped and they became feelings simply. It is thus oidy so far 
as space is supposed to exist after a mode of which, according 
to Locke himself, sense could take no copy — Le. as exclusive 
not merely of all colour but of all body, and as infinitely di- 
visible — ^that Berkeley becomes aware of its incompatibility 
with his doctrine. Pure space, or * vacuum,' to him means 
space liiat can not be touched — ^a tangible extension that 
is not tangible — and is therefore a contradiction in terms. 
The notion that, though not touched, it might be seen, he 
excludes,' apparently for the same reason which prevents 
him from allowing visible extension to be space at all ; the 
reason, namely, that there is no ^ outness' or relation of ex- 
ternality between the parts of such extension. The fact that 
ithere can be no such relation between the successive feelings 
' ] which alone, according to him, constitute * tangible extension,' 
he did not see to be equally &tal to the latter being in any 
true sense space. In other words, he did not see that the 
test of reduction to feeling, by which he disposed of the 
vacutimy disposed of space altogether. If he had, he would 
have understood that space and body were intelligible rela- 
tions, which can be thought of apart from the feelings which 
through them become the world that we know, since it is 
they that are the conditions of these feelings becoming a 
knowledge, not the feelings that are the condition of the 
relations being known. Whether they can be thought of 
apart from each other — whether the simple relation of exter- 
nality between parts of a whole can be thought of without 
the parts being considered as solid — is of course a further 
question, and one which Berkeley cannot be said properly to 
discuss at all, since the abstraction of space from body to him 

> * Principles of Human Knowledge/ sec 116. 


meant its abstraction from feelings of touch. The answer to 
it ceases to be difficult as soon as the question is properly 

180. As with yacuum, so with infinite divisibility. Once Berkoiey 
let it be understood that extension is constituted by the rela- ^^Jsposj" ol 

SDftco for 

tion of externality between homogeneous parts, and it follows fear of 
that there can be no least part of extension, none that does ^°^^°8 
Dot itself consist of parts ; in other words, that it is infinitely 
divisible : just as conversely it follows that there can be no 
hut part of it, not having another outside it ; in other words, 
that (to use Locke's phrase) it is infinitely addible. Doubt- 
less, as Berkeley held, there is a ^ minimum visibile '; but this 
means that there are conditions under which any seen colour 
disappears, and disappearing, ceases to be known under the 
relation of extension ; but it is only through a confasion of 
the relation with the colour that the disappearance of the 
latter is thought to be a disappearance of so much extension.^ 
It was, in short, the same failure to recognise the true ideality 
of space, as a relation constituted by thought, that on the one 
hand made its * purity ' and infinity unmeaning to Berkeley, 
and on the other made him think that, if pure {sc. irreducible to 
feelings) and infinite,it must limit the Divine perfection,either 
as being itself God or as ^ something beside God which is 
eternal, uncreated, and infinite' (^ Principles of Human Know- 
ledge,' sec. 117). Fear of this result set him upon that 
method of resolving space, and with it the world of nature, 
into sequent feelings, which, if it had been really susceptible 
of logical expression, would at best have given him nothing 
but a fUya $Sov for God. If he had been in less of a huny with 
his philosophy, he might have found that the current tendency 
to * bind Qod in nature or diffuse in space ' required to be met 
by a sounder than his boyish idealism — by an idealism which 
gives space its due, but reflects that to make space God, or a 
limitation on God, is to subject thought itself to the most 
superficial of the relations by which it forms the world that 
it knows* 

181. So far we have only considered Berkeley's reduction flow he 
of primary qualities, supposed to be sensible, to sensations ^^^? V!^ 
as it affects the qualities themselves, rather than as it affects Sf^^nenf 
the possibility ofuniversal judgments about them. If, indeed, kuowladgii 

> The same remark of coune applief , Ungibile.' See Mow, paragraphs 265 
mmiaHs muiandii, to the ' mimmum and 26C. 


as we have found, such reduction reallj amonnta to the abso- 
lute obliteration of the qualities, no fui-ther queation can 
remain as to the possibility of general knowledge concerning 
them. As Berkeley, however, did not admit the obliteration, 
the farther question did remain for him : and the condition 
of his plausibly answering it was that he should recognise 
in the ^idea,' as subject of predication, that intelligible qualifi- 
cation by relation which he did not recognise in it simply as 
*idea,' and which essentially diflFerences it from feeling 
proper. If any particular * tangible extension,* e.g. a right- 
angled triangle, is only a feeling, or in Berkeley's own 
language, ^ a fleeting perishable passion ' ' not existing at all, 
even as an * abstract idea,' except when some one's tactual 
organs are being aflfected in a certain way — ^what are we 
to make of such a general truth as that the square on its 
base is always equal to the squares on its sides 9 Omitting 
all difficulties about the convertibility of a figure with a 
feeling, we find two questions still remain — How such sepa- 
ration can be made of the figure from the other conditions 
of the tactual experience as that propositions should be 
possible which concern the figure simply ; and how a single 
case of tactual experience — that in which the mathematician 
finds a feeling called a right-angled triangle followed by 
another which he calls equality between the squares, &c. — 
leads in the absence of any ^necessary connexion' to the 
expectation that the sequence will always be the same.' The 
difficulty becomes the more striking when it is remembered 
that though the geometrical proposition in question, according 
to Berkeley, concerns the tangible, the experience which 
suggests it is merely visual. 
His theory 182. Berkeley's answer to these questions must be gathered 
Rils"'^"" ^^^ ^is theory of general names. * It is, I know,' he says, 
*a point much insisted on, that all knowledge and demonstra- 
tion are about universal notions, to which I fully agree : but 
then it does not appear to me that those notions are formed 
by abstraction — universality y so far as I can comprehend, not 
consisting in the absolute positive nature or conception of 
anything, but in the relation it bears to the particulars 
signified or represented by it ; by virtue whereof it is that 
things, names, or notions, being in their own nature par^ 
ticular^ are rendered universal. Thus, when I demonstrate 
> * Principles of Human Knowledge,' sec. 89. * See aboFO, paragraph 122. 

. fleas lie 
m zelation. 


any proposition concerning triangles, it is to be supposed 
that I have in view the universal idea of a triangle ; which is 
not to be understood as if I could frame an idea of a triangle 
which was neither equilateral nor scalene nor equicrural; 
but only that the particular triangle I considered, whether of 
this or that sort it matters not, doth equally stand for and 
represent all rectilinear triangles whatsoever, and is in that 
sense universal.' Thus it is that ^ a man may consider a 
figure merely as triangular/ (* Principles of Human Know- 
ledge,' Introd. sees. 15 and 16.) 

188. In this passage appear the beginnings of a process of value, as 
of thought which, if it had been systematically pursued by ^ply^^s 
Berkeley, might have brought him to understand by thes^ersalityof 
* percipi,' to which he pronounced * esse ' equivalent, defi- J®^, Ji?J„ 
nitely the ^ intelligi.' As it stands, the result of the passage 4 
merely is that the triangle (for instance) ^ in its own nature,' 
because * particular,' is not a possible subject of general pre- 
dication or reasoning: that it is so only as ^considered' under 
a relation of resemblance to other triangles and by such con- 
sideration universalized. 'In its ovm nature,' or as a 'par- 
ticular idea,' the triangle, we" must suppose, is so much 
tangible (or visible, as symbolical of tangible) extension, and 
therefore according to Berkeley a feeUng. But a relation, as 
he virtually admits,' is neither a feeling nor felt. The triangle, 
then, as considered under relation and thus a possible subject 
of general propositions, is quite other than the triangle in its 
own nature. This, of course, is so far merely a virtual repeti- 
tion of Locke's* embarrassing doctrine that real things are not 
the things which we speak of, and which are the subject of 
our sciences ; but it is a repetition with two fruitful differences 
— one, that the thing in its 'absolute positive nature' is more 
explicitly identified with feeling; the other, that the process, 
by which the thing thought and spoken of is supposed to be 
derived from the real thing, is no longer one of ' abstraction,' 
but consists in consideration of relation. It is true that with 
Berkeley the mere feeling has a 'positive nature' apart from 
considered relations,' and that the considered relation, by 
which the feeling is universalised, is only that of resemblance 
between properties supposed to exist independently of it. The 
particular triangle,' reducible to feelings of touch, has its 

■ See * Principles of Human Knowledge,' sec 89. (2nd edit) 
' See below, puxagraph 298. 




that each 
apart from 

triang^olarity (we mast suppose) simply as a feeling. It is 
only the resemblance between the triangnlarity in this and 
other figores — ^not the triangularity itself— that is a relation, 
and, as a relation, not felt but considered ; or in Berkeley's 
language, something of which we have not properly an * idea' 
but a * notion.' * 

184. But though Berkeley only renders explicit the diffi- 
culties impUdt in Locke's doctrine of ideas, that is itself a 
great step taken towards disposing of them. Once let the 
equivocation between sensible qualities and sensations be got 
rid of — once let it be admitted that the triangle in its absolute 
nature, as opposed to the triangle considered, is merely a 
feeling, and that relations are not feelings or felt — and the 
question must soon arise. What in the absence of all relation 
remains to be the absolute nature of the triangle 9 It is a 
question which ultimately admits of but one answer. The 
triangularity of the given single figure must be allowed to be 
just as much a relation as the resemblance, consisting in 
triangularity, between it and other figures ; and if a relation, 
then not properly felt, but understood. The * particular' 
triangle, if by that is meant the triangle as subject of a 
singular proposition, is no more ^ particular in time,' no more 
co&stituted by the occurrence of a feeling, than is the triangle 
as subject of a general proposition. It really exists as con- 
stituted by relation, and therefore only as * considered ' or 
nnderstood. In its existence, as in the consideration of it, 
the relations indicated by the terms ' equilateral, equicrural 
and scalene,' presuppose the relation of triangularity, not it 
them ; and for that reason it can be considered apart from 
them, though not they apart from it, without any breach 
between that which is considered and that which really 
exists. Thus, too, it becomes explicable that a single expe- 
riment should warrant a universal affirmation; that the 
mathematician, having once found as the result of a certain 
comparison of magnitudes that the square on the hypothenuse 
is equal to the square on the sides, without waiting for re- 
peated experience at once substitutes for the singular propo- 
sition, which states his discovery, a general one. K the 

' ' PHnciplee of Human Knowledge/ 
Rid» This perhaps is the hest place 
for saying that it is not firom any want 
of respect for Dr. Stirling that I habitn- 
•lly use 'notion' in the loose popular 

way which he counts ' barbarous/ but 
beaiuse the barbarism is so ^reyalent 
that it seems best to submit to it, and to 
use 'conception' as the equivalent of 
the German ' Bfgriff/ 


ungear proposition stated a sensible event or the occurrence 
of a feeling, snch substitution would be inexplicable : for if 
that were the true account of the singular proposition, a 
general one could but express such expectation of the recur- 
rence of the event as repeated experience of it can alone give* 
Bat a relation is not contingent with the contingency of 
feeling. It is permanent with the permanence of the com- 
bining and comparing thought which alone constitutes it ; 
and for that reason, whether it be recognised as the result 
of a mathematical construction or of a crucial experiment in 
physics, the proposition which states it must already be 
virtually universal. 

185. Of such a doctrine Berkeley is rather the unconscious Tzaceaof 
forerunner than the intelligent prophet. It is precisely upon ^J^^SS-' 
the question whether, or how far, he recognised the constitu- ism. 
tion of things by intelligible relations, that the interpretation 
of his early (which is his only developed) idealism rests. Is it 
such idealism as Hume's, or such idealism as that adum- 
brated in some passages of his ovm ' Siris ' P Is the idea, 
which is real, according to him a feeling or a conception ? 
Has it a nature of its own, consisting simply in its being felt, 
and which we afterwards for purposes of our own consider in 
various relations; or does the nature consist only in relations, 
which again imply the action of a mind that is eternal — 
present to that which is in succession, but not in succession 
itself? The truth seems to be that this question in its full 
significance never presented itself to Berkeley, at least 
during the period represented by his philosophical treatises. 
His early idealism, as we learn from the commonplace-book 
brought to light by Professor Eraser, was merely a cruder 
form of Hume's. By the time of the publication of the 
* Principles of Human Knowledge' he had learnt that, unless 
this doctrine was to efface ' spirit ' as well as ^ matter,' he 
must modify it by the admission of a ^ thing ' that was not 
an 'idea,' and of which the ^esse' was 'percipere' not 
'percipi.' This admission carried with it the distinction 
between the object felt and the object known, between 4dea* 
and 'notion' — a distinction which was more clearly marked 
in the 'Dialogues.' Of 'spirit' we could have a 'notion,' 
though not an ' idea.' But it was only in the second edition 
of the ' Principles ' that ' relation' was put along vrith ' spirit,* 
as that which could be known but which was no ' idea;' and 



His way of 





If they 
imply per- 
his theory 

then without any recogp:iition of the fact that the whole re- 
ductiou of primary qualities to mere ideas was thereby 
invalidated. The objects, with which the mathematician 
deals, are throughout treated as in their own nature ' par- 
ticular ideas/ into the constitution of which relation does not 
enter at all ; in other words, as successive feelings. 

186. If the truths of mathematics seemed to Berkeley ex- 
plicable on this supposition, those of the physical sciences 
were not likely to seem less so. As long as the relations 
with which these sciences deal are relations between * sensible 
objects,' he does not notice that they are relations, and 
therefore not feelings or felt, at aU. He treats felt things as 
if the same as feelings, and ignores the relations altogether. 
Thus a so-called ' sensible ' motion causes him no difficulty. 
He would be content to say that it was a succession of ideas, 
not perceiving that motion implies a relation between spaces 
or moments as successively occupied by something that 
remains one with itself — a relation which a mere sequence of 
feelings could neither constitute nor of itself suggest. It is 
only about a motion which does not profess to be * seen,* such 
as the motion of the earth, that any question is raised — ^a 
question easily disposed of by the consideration that in a diffe- 
rent position we should see it. * The question whether the 
earth moves or not amounts in reality to no more than this, to 
wit, whether we have reason to conclude from what hath been 
observed by astronomers, that if we were placed in such and 
such circumstances, and such or such a position and distance 
both from the earth and sun, we should perceive the former to 
move among the choir of the planets, and appearing in all 
respects like one cf them : and this by the established rules 
of nature, which we have no reason to mistrust, is reasonably 
collected from the phenomena ' (* Principles of Human Know- 
ledge,' sec. 58).* 

187. Now this passage clearly does not mean — as it ought 
to mean if the * esse ' of the motion were the ^percipi^ by us — 
that the motion of the earth would begin as soon as we were 
there to see it. It means that it is now going on as an ^ es- 
tablished law of nature,' which may be * collected from the 
phenomena.' In other words, it means that our successive 
feelings are so related to each other as determined by one 
present and permanent system, on which not they only but 

1 Cf. *Dialogae0|' page 147, in Ftof. Fiasex's edition. 


all possible feelings depend, that by a certain set of them we He rap- 
are led — ^not to expect a recurrence of them in like order ^^^^ 
according to the laws of association, but, what is the exact decree that 
reverse of this — ^to infer that certain other feelings, of which g^^®^'"* 
we have no experience, would now occur to us if certain con- follow 
ditions of situation on our part were fulfiOQed, because the *"other. 
* ordo ad universum,' of which these feelings would be the 
'ordo ad nos,' does now obtain. But though Berkeley's 
words mean this for us, they did not mean it for him. That 
such relation — merely intelligible, or according to his phrase- 
ology not an idea or object of an idea at all, as he must have 
admitted it to be — gives to our successive feelings the only 
^nature' that they possess, he never recognised. By the 
relation of idea to idea, as he repeatedly tells us, he meant 
not a ^necessary connexion,' i,6. not a relation without which 
neither idea would be what it is, but such de facto sequence of 
one upon the other as renders the occurrence of one the un- 
failing but arbitrary sign that the other is coming. It is 
thus according to Him (and here Hume merely followed suit) 
that feelings are symbolical — symbolical not of an order 
other than the feelings and which accounts for them, but 
simply of feelings to follow. To Berkeley, indeed, unlike 
Hume, the sequence of feelings symbolical of each other is 
also symbolical of something farther, viz. the mind of Qod : 
but when we examine what this * mind ' means, we find that 
it is not an intelligible order by which our feelings may be 
interpreted, or the spiritual subject of such an order, but 
simply the arbitrary will of a creator that this feeling shall 
follow that. 

188. Such a doctrine could not help being at once confused Locke had 
in its account of reality, and insecure in its doctrine alike of ^^^^!^ 
the human spirit and of God. On the recognition of relations relation of 
as constituting the natwre of ideas rests the possibility of any ^^^"^ 
tenable theory of their reality. An isolated idea could be body. 
neither real nor unreal. Apart from a definite order of rela- 
tion we may suppose (if we like) that it would be, but it would 
certainly not be real ; and as little could it be unreal, since 
unreality can only result from the confusion in our conscious- 
ness of one order of relation with another. It is diversity of 
relations that distinguishes, for instance, these letters as they 
now appear on paper from the same as I imagine them with 
xny eyes shut) giving each sort its own reality : just as upon 


Liveliness confusion with the other each alike becomes nnreal. Thua^ 
i^d^nce of ^^^o^l^ "^^ Locke simple ideas ore necessarily real, we soon 
thisrela- find that even according to him they are not truly so in their 
^^^ simplicity, but only as related to an external thing producing 

them. He is right enough, however inconsistent with him- 
self, in making relation constitute reality ; wrong in limiting 
this prerogative to the one relation of externality. When 
he afterwards, in virtual contradiction to this limitation, finds 
the reality of moral and mathematical ideas just in that sole 
relation to the mind, as its products, which he had previously 
made the source of aU imreality, he forces upon us the expla- 
nation which he does not himself give, that unreality does not 
lie in either relation as opposed to the other, but in the con- 
cision of any relation with another. It is for lack of this 
explanation that Locke himself, as we have seen, finds in the 
liveliness and involuntariness of ideas the sole and sufficient 
tests (not canstitfients) of their reality ; though they are obvi- 
ously tests which put the dreams of a man in a fever upon 
the same footing with the ^ impressions' of a man awake, and 
would ofben prove that unreal after dinner which had been 
proved real before. There is a well-known story of a man 
who in a certain state of health commonly saw a particular 
gory apparition, but who, knowing its origin, used to have 
himself bled till it disappeared. The reality of the apparition 
lay, he knew, in some relation between the circulation of his 
blood and his organs of sight, in distinction from the reality- 
existing in the normal relations of his visual organs to the 
light : and in his idea, accordingly, there was nothing unreal, 
because he did not confuse the one relation with the other. 
Locke's doctrine, however, would allow of no distinction 
between the apparition as it was for such a man and as it 
would be for one who interpreted it as an actual ^ ghost.' 
However interpreted, the liveliness and the involuntariness of 
the idea remain the same, as does its relation to an efficient 
cause. If in order to its reality the cause must be an ' out- 
ward body,' then it is no more real when rightly, than when 
wrongly, interpreted ; while on the ground of liveliness and 
involuntariness it is as real when taken for a ghost as when 
referred to an excess of blood in the head. 
Berkelej 189. As has been pointed out above, it is in respect not 
rc^j^**"'* of the * ratio cognoscendi' but of the * ratio essendi' that 
only eub- Berkeley's doctrine of reality differs from Locke's. With him 


it in not as an effect of an outward body, but as an immediate f^^'j"^ 
effect of God, that an *idea of sense* is real. Just as with Itody/**' 
Locke real ideas and matter serve each to explain the other, 
so with Berkeley do real ideas and God. If he is asked, 
What is Gk>d P the answer is, He is the efficient cause of real 
ideas; if he is asked. What are real ideas? the answer is. 
Those which God produces, as opposed to those which we 
make for oursclyes. To the inevitable objection, that this is 
a logical see-saw, no effective answer can be extracted from 
Berkeley but this — that we have subjective tests of the reality 
of ideas apart from a knowledge of their cause. In his 
account of these Berkeley only differs from Locke in adding 
to the qualifications of liveliness and involuntariness those of 
^ steadiness, order, and coherence ' in the ideas. This addition 
may mean either a great deal or very little. To us it may 
mean that the distinction of real and unreal is one that 
applies not to feelings but to the conceived relations of feel- 
ings ; not to events as such, but to the intellectual interpre- 
tation of them. The occurrence of a feeling taken by itself 
(it may be truly said) is neither coherent nor incoherent; 
nor can the sequence of feelings one upon another with any 
significance be called coherence, since in that case an inco- 
herence would be as impossible as any failure in the sequence. 
As little can we mean by such coherence an usual, by inco- 
herence an unusual, sequence of feelings. K we did, every 
sequence not before experienced — such, for instance, as is 
exhibited by a new scientific experiment — ^being unusual, 
would have to be pronounced incoherent, and therefore 
unreaL Coherence, in short, we may conclude, is only 
predicable of a system of relations, not felt but conceived ; 
while incoherence arises from the attempt of an imperfect 
intelligence to think an object under relations which cannot 
ultimately be held together in thought. The qualification 
then of * ideas * as coherent has in truth no meaning unless 
^idea' be taken to mean not feeling but conception : and thus 
understood, the doctrine that coherent ideas a/re (Berkeley 
happily excludes the notion that they merely represent) the 
real, amounts to a clear identification of the real with the 
world of conception. 

190. If such idealism were Berkeley's, his inference from Not rfH 
the * ideality' of the real to spirit and God would be more gw^ngUi© 
valid than it is. To have got rid of the notion that the ^^m^t^ 


faitaUigible world first exists and then is thought of— to have seen that 
h^^uld ^* ^^y really exists as thought of— is to have taken the first 
not regud step in the only possible * proof of the being of God,' as the 
M^ect of* self-conscious subject in relation to which alone an intelli- 
it. gible world can exist, and the presence of which in us is the 

condition of our knowing it.' But there is nothing to show 
that in adopting coherence as one test, among others, of the 
reality of ideas, he attached to it any of the significance 
exhibited aboye* He adopted it from ordinary language 
without considering how it affected his view of tiie world as 
a succession of feelings. That still remained to him a suffi- 
cient account of the world, even when he treated it as affording 
intuitive certainty of a soul * naturally immortal,' and de- 
monstrative certainty of God. He is not aware, while he 
takes his doctrine of such certainty from Locke, that he has 
left out, and not replaced, the only solid ground for it which 
Locke's system suggested. 
HisTiewof Idl^* 1^^ Boul or self, as he describes it, does not differ 
theoouias from Locke's thinking substance,* except that, having got 
immortal; ^^ ^^ * extended matter ' altogether, he cannot admit with 
Locke any possibility of the soul's being extended, and, 
having satisfied himself that * time was nothing abstracted 
from the succession of ideas in the mind,'* he was clear that 
' the soul always thinks ' — since the time at which it did not 
think, being abstracted from a succession of ideas, would be 
no time at all. A soul which is necessarily unextended and 
therefore * indiscerptible,' and without which there would be 
no time, he reckons ^ naturally immortaL' 
Endiees 1^2. Upon this the remark must occur that, if the fact of 

Bacoession being unextended constituted immortality, all sounds and 
is not i^ smeUs must be immortal, and that the inseparability of time 
mortality from the succession of feelings may prove that succession 
in tru© endless, but proves no immortality of a soul unless there be 
one self-conscious subject of that succession, identical with 
itself throughout it. To the supposition of there being such 
a subject, which Berkeley virtually makes, his own mode of 
disposing of matter suggested ready objections. In Locke, 
as we have seen, the two opposite 'things,' thinking and 
material, always appear in strict correlativity, each repre- 
senting (though he was not aware of this) the same logical 

* See aboTOi paragraphs 146 and 149- * 'Principles of Human Knowledge/ 
152. sec. 98. 


necessity of substantiation. * Sensation convinces ns that Berkeley's 
there are solid extended substances, and reflection that there nJ^^®*^ 
are tliinking ones.' These are not two convictions, however, fatal to a 
but one conviction, representing one and the same essential ^]J^"' 
condition of knowledge. Such logical necessity indeed is 
misinterpreted when made a ground for believing the real 
existence either of a multitude of independent things, for 
everything is a * retainer* to everything else ;* or of a sepa- 
ration of the thinking from the material substance, since, 
according to Locke's own showing, they at least everywhere 
overlap ; * or of an absolutely last substance, which because 
last would be unknowable : but it is evidence of the action of 
a synthetic principle of self-consciousness without which 
all reference of feelings to mutually-qualified subjects and 
objects, and therefore all knowledge, would be impossible. 
It is idle, however, with Berkeley so to ignore the action of 
this principle on the one side as to pronounce the material 
world a mere succession of feelings, and so to take it for 
granted on the other as to assert that every feeling implies 
relation to a conscious substance. Upon such a method the 
latter assertion has nothing to rest on but an appeal to the 
individual's consciousness — ^an appeal which avails as much 
or as little for material as for thinking substance, and, in 
face of the apparent fact that with a knock on the head the 
conscious independent substance may disappear altogether, 
cannot hold its own against the suggestion that the one sub- 
stance no less than the other is reducible to a series of feelings, 
so closely and constantly sequent on each other as to seem to 
coalesce. We cannot substitute for this illusory appeal the 
valid method of an analysis of knowledge, without finding 
that substantiation in matter is just as necessary to know- 
ledge as substantiation in mind. If this method had been 
Berkeley's he would have found a better plan for dealing with 
the ' materialism ' in vogue. Instead of trying to show that 
material substance was a fiction, he would have shown that 
it was really a basis of intelligible relations, and that thus 
all that was fictitious about it was its supposed sensibility 
and consequent opposition to the work of thought. Then 
his doctrine of matter would itself have established the 
necessity of spirit, not indeed as substance but as the 
source of all substantiation. As it was, misunderstanding 

" Above, paragraph 126. * Above, paragraph 127. 


the true nature of the antithesis between matter and mind, 
in his zeal against matter he took away the ground from 
under the spiritualism which he sought to maintain. He 
simply invited a successor in speculation, of colder blood 
than himself, to try the solution of spirit in the same crucible 
with matter, 
as well AS 193. His doctrine of God is not only open to the same ob- 
to a true jection as his doctrine of spiritual substance, but to others 
which arise from the illogical restrictions that have to be put 
upon his notion of such substance, if it is to represent at once 
the Grod of received theology and the God whose agency the 
Berkeleian system requires as the basis of distinction be- 
tween the real and unreal. Admitting the supposition 
involved in his certainty of the * natural immortality' of the 
soul — ^the supposition that the succession of feelings which 
constitutes the world, and which at no time was not, implies 
one feeling substance — ^that substance we should naturaUy 
conclude was God. Such a God, it is true (as has been already 
pointed out),* would merely be the fiiya ^&ov of the crudest 
Pantheism, but it is the only God logically admissible — if 
any be admissible — in an * ideal ' system of which the text is 
not * the world really exists only as thought of,' but *the world 
only exists as a succession of feelings.' It was other than a 
feeling substance, however, that Berkeley required not merely 
to satisfy his religious instincts, but to take the place held by 
^ outward body' with Locke as the efficient of real ideas. The 
reference to this feeling substance, if necessary for any idea, 
is necessary for all — for the ' fantastic ' as well as for those 
of sense — and can therefore afford no ground for distinction 
between the real and unreal. Instead, however, of being thus 
led to a truer view of this distinction, as in truth a distinc- 
tion between the complete and incomplete conception of an 
intelligible world, he simply puts the feeling substance, when 
he regards it as God, under an arbitrary limitation, making 
it relative only to those ideas of which with Locke ' matter ' 
was the substance, as opposed to those which Locke had 
referred to the thinking thing. The direct consequence of 
this limitation, indeed, might seem to be merely to make God 
an animal of partial, instead of universal, susceptibility ; but 
this consequence Berkeley avoids by dropping the ordinary 
notion of substance altogether, so as to represent the ideas of 

See paragraph 180. 


sense not as subsisting in God bat as effects of His power — His infer- 
as related to Him, in short, just as with Locke ideas of sense ^^ ^9 
are related to the primary qualities of matter. ^ There must neeeasity 
be an active power to produce our ideas, which is not to be of a power 
found in ideas themselves, for we are conscious that they are idJ^^^ 
inert, nor in matter, since that is but a name for a bundle of 
ideas ; which must therefore be in spirit, since of that we are 
conscious as active ; yet not in the spirit of which we are 
conscious, since then there would be no difference between 
real and imaginary ideas ; therefore in a Divine Spirit, to 
whom, however, may forthwith be ascribed the attributes of 
the spirit of which we are conscious.' Such is the sum 
of Berkeley's natural theology. 

194. From a follower of Hume it of course invites the reply a naceesHy 
that he does not see the necessity of an active power at all, ^^^ 
to which, since, according to Berkeley's own showing, it is no not see. 
possible ^ idea' or object of an idea, all his own polemic against 
the ^ absolute idea ' of matter is equally applicable ; that the 
efficient power, of which we profess to be conscious in ourselves, 
is itself only a name for a particular feeling or impression 
which precedes certain other of our impressions ; that, even 
if it were more than this, the transition from the spiritual 
efficiency of which we are conscious to another, of which it is 
the special differentia that we are not conscious of it, would 
be quite illegitimate, and that thus in saying that certain 
feelbigs are real because, being lively and involuntary, they 
must be the work of this unknown spirit, we in effect say 
nothing more than that they are real because lively and 
involuntary. Against a retort of this kind Berkeley's theistic 
armour is even less proof than Locke's. His ' proof of the 
being of God ' is in fact Locke's with the sole nerws probandi 
left out. The value of Locke's proof, as an argument from 
their being something now to their having been something 
fix)m eternity, lay, we saw, in its convertibility into an argu- 
ment from tiie world as a system of relations to a present 
and eternal subject of those relations. For its being so con- 
vertible there was this to be said, that Locke, with whatever 
inconsistency, at least recognised the constitution of reality 
by permanent relations, though he treated the mere relation 
of external efficiency — that in virtue of which we say of 
nature that it consists of bodies outward to and acting on 
each other — as if it alone constituted the reality of the world. 


A different Berkeley's reduction of the 'primary qualities of matter' to 
0^il ^ succession of feelings logically eflhces this relation, and 
faATe been puts nothing intelligible, nothing but a name, in its place. 
SeaHsm^if '^^ effacement of the distinction between the real and unreal, 
it was to which would properly ensue, is only prevented by bringing 
■arve his j^g^j^ relation to something under the name of Gtod, eitlier 
wholly unknown and indeterminate, or else, under a thin 
disguise, determined by that very relation of external efficiency 
which, when ascribed to sometiiing only nominally different, 
had been pronounced a gratuitous fiction. If Berkeley had 
dealt with the opposition of reality to thought by showing 
the primary qualities to be conceived relations, and the dis- 
tinction between the real and unreal to be one between the 
fully and the defectively conceived, the case would have been 
different. The real and God would alike have been logically 
saved. The peculiar embarrassment of Locke's doctrine we 
have found to be that it involves the unreality of every object, 
into the constitution of which there enters any idea of reflec- 
tion, or any idea retained in the mind, as distinct from the 
present effect of a body acting upon us — ue, of every object 
of which anything can be said. With the definite substitu- 
tion of full intelligibility of relations for present sensibility, 
as the true account of the real, this embarrassment would 
have been got rid of. At the same time there would have 
been implied an intelligent subject of these relations ; the 
ascription to whom, indeed, of moral attributes would have 
remained a further problem, but who, far from being a 
* Great Unknown,' would be at least determined by relation 
to that order of nature which is as necessary to Him as He 
to it. But in fact, as we have seen, the notion of the 
reality of relations, not felt but understood, only appears in. 
Berkeley's developed philosophy as an after-tiiought, and 
the notion of an order of nature, other than our feelings, 
which enables us to infer what feelings that have never been 
felt would be, is an unexplained intrusion in it. The same 
is true of the doctrine, which struggles to the surface in the 
Third Dialogue, that the * sensible world ' is to God not felt 
at all, but known ; that to Him it is precisely not that which 
according to Berkeley's refutation of materialism it really is — • 
a series or collection of sensations. These ^ after- thoughts,' 
when thoroughly thought out, imply a complete departure 
from Berkeley's original interpretation of ' phenomena ' as 


simple feelings ; bat with him, so far from being ihonglit 
out, they merely suggested themselves incidentally as the 
conceptions of Qod and reality were found to require them. 
In other words, that interpretotion of phenomena, which is 
necessary to any valid ' collection ' fix>m them of the existence 
of Grod, only appears in him as a consequence of that ' collec- Han^p's 
tion ' having been made. To pursue the original interpreta- ■^■*^'^ 
tion, so that all might know what it left of reality, was the 
best x^y of deciding the question of its compatibility with a 
rational belief in God — a question of too momentous an 
interest to be fairly considered in itself. Thus to pursue it 
was the mission of Hume. *- 

195. Hume begins with an account of the ' perceptions of His ac- 
khe human mind/ which corresponds to Locke's account of !^^^ ^^ 
ideas with two main qualifications, both tending to complete riouTnd 
that dependence of liiought on something other than itself '^^^^ 
which Locke had asserted, but not consistently maintained. 
He distinguishes ^ perceptions ' (equivalent to Locke's ideas) 
into ^ impressions ' and * ideas ' accordingly as they are origi- 
nally produced in feeling or reproduced by memory and 
imagination, and he does not al.ow * ideas of reflection ' any 
place in the original ' furniture of the mind.' ^ An impression 
first strikes upon the senses, and makes us perceive heat or 
cold, thirst or hunger, pleasure or pain, of some kind or other. 
Of this impression there is a copy taken by the mind, which 
remains after the impression ceases; and this we call an 
idea. This idea of pleasure or pain, when it returns upon the 
soul, produces the new impressions of desire and aversion, 
hope anl fear, which may properly be called impressions of 
reflection, because derived from it. These, again, are copied 
by the memory and imaginfition, and become ideas ; which, 
perhaps, in their turn give rise to other impressions and 
ideas ; so that the impressions are only antecedent to their 
correspondent ideas, but posterior to those of sensation and 
derived from them ' (Part I. § 2) . He is at the same time careful 
to explain that the causes from which the impressions of 
sensation arise are unknown (ibid.), and that by the term 
' impression ' he is not to be ^ understood to express the 
manner in which our lively perceptions are produced in the 
soul, but merely the perceptions themselves' (p. 812, note). 
The distinction between impression and idea he treats as 
equivalent to that between feeling and thinking, which, again, 



lies merely in the dijBFerent degrees of ^ force and liveliness ' 
with which the perceptions, thus designated, severally ' strike 
upon the mind.' * Thus the rule which he emphasises (p. 310) 
IdoM are < that all our simple ideas in their first appearance are de- 
prawioDB. nved from simple impressions which are correspondent to 
them and which they exactly represent,' strictly taken, means 
no more than that a feeling must be more lively before it 
becomes less so. As the reproduced perception, or ^ idea,' 
diifers in this respect from the original one, so, according to 
the greater or less degree of secondary liveliness which it 
possesses, is it called ^ idea of memory,' or ' idea of imagina- 
tion.' The only other distmction noticed is that, as might 
be expected, the comparative feiintness of the ideas of unagi- 
nation is accompanied by a possibility of their being repro- 
duced in a different order from that in which the correspond- 
ing ideas were originally presented. Memory, on the contrary, 
< is in a manner tied down in this respect, without any power 
of variation' (p. 318) ; which must be understood to mean 
that, when the ideas are faint enough to allow of variation 
in the order of reproduction, they are not called 'ideas 
of memory.' 
* Ideas' 196. All, then, that Hume could find in his mind, when 

i^ w*^!*^^ after Locke's example he 'looked into it,' were, according to 
presented his owu statement, feelings with their copies, dividing them- 
S^ned m" ^^^®® ^^ ^^^ main orders — ^those of sensation and those of 
mero reflection, of which the latter, though results of the former, 

words. ^^ j^Q^ their copies. The question, then, that he had to deal 
with was, to what impressions he could reduce those concep- 
tions of relation^-of cause and effect, substance and attribute, 
and identity — which all knowledge involves. Failing the 
impressions of sensation he must try those of reflection, and 
failing both he must pronounce such conceptions to be no 
' ideas ' at all, but words misunderstood, and leave knowledge 
to take its chance. The vital nerve of his philosophy lies in 
% his treatment of the ' association of ideas ' as a sort of process 

of spontaneous generation, by which impressions of sensation 
issue in such impressions of reflection, in the shape of habitual 
propensities,* as will account, not indeed for there being — 
since there really are not— but for there seeming to be, those 
formal conceptions which Locke, to the embarrassment of 

> 8ee pp. 827 and 375. * Pp. 460 and 496. 


nifl philosophy, had treated as at once real and creations of 
the mind. 

197- Such a method meets at the outset with the difficulty Hum* 
that the impressions of sensation and those of reflection, if gtri^j, 
Locke's determination of the former by reference to an im- i»Te8 no 
pressive matter is excluded, are each determined only by ij^^een^" 
reference to the other. What is an impression of reflection? impree- 
It is one that can only come after an impression of sensation. ^£^oq 
What is an impression of sensation? It is one that comes and of sen- 
before any impression of reflection. An apparent determina- "^^^^ 
tion, indeed, is gained by speaking of the original impressions 
as * conveyed to us by our senses;' but this really means de- 
termination by reference to the organs of our body as affected 
by outward bodies — in short, by a physical theory. But of 
the two essential terms of this theory, * our own body,' and 
* outward body,' neither, according to Hume, expresses any- 
thing present to the original ccmsciousness. ' Properly speak- 
ing, it is not our body we perceive when we regard our 
limbs and members, but certain impressions which enter by 
the senses.' Nor do any of our impressions * inform us of 
distance and outness (so to speak) immediately, and without 
a certain reasoning and experience ' (p. 481). In such ad- 
missions Hume is as much a Berkeleian as Berkeley himself, 
and they effectually exclude any reference to body from those 
original impressions, by reference to which all other modes 
of consciousness are to be explained. /~ 

198. He thus logically cuts off his psychology from the Locke'f 
support which, according to popular conceptions, its primary *^^J^^ 
truths derive from physiology. We have already noticed diBappean. 
bow with Locke metaphysic begs defence of physic ; ^ how, 
having undertaken to answer by the impossible method of 
self-observation the question as to what consciousness is to 
itself at its beginning, he in fact tells us what it is to the 
natural philosopher, who accounts for the production of sen- 
sation by the impact of matter * on the outward parts, con- 
tinued to the brain.' To those, of course, who hold that the 
only possible theory of knowledge and of the human spirit is 
physical, it must seem that this was his greatest merit ; 
that, an unmeaning question having been asked, it was the 
best thing to give an answer which indeed is no answer to 

' See above, pamgraph 17. 
M 2 


the question^ but has some elementary truth of its own. 
According to them, though he may have been wrong in sup- 
posing consciousness to be to itself what the physiologist 
Phywoiogy explains it to be — since any supposition at all about it except 
■wer^the" ^ * phenomenon, to which certain other phenomena are in- 
^nestaon variably antecedent, is at best superfluous— he was not wrong 
^^^l"®**® in taking the physiological explanation to be the true and 
sufficient one. To such persons we can but respectfully point 
out that they have not come in sight of the problem which 
Locke and his followers, on however false a method, sought 
to solve ; that, however certain may be the correlation between 
the brain and thought, in the sense that the individual would 
be incapable of the processes of thought unless he had brain 
and nerves of a particular sort, yet it is equally certain that 
every theory of the correlation must presuppose a knowledge 
of the processes, and leave that knowledge exactly where it 
was before; that thus their science, valuable like every other 
science within its own department, takes for granted just 
what metaphysic, as a theory of knowledge, seeks to explain* 
When the origin, for instance, of the conception of body or 
of that of an organic structure is in question, it is in the 
strictest sense preposterous to be told that body makes the 
conception of body, and that unless the brain were organic 
to thought I should not now be thinking. ' The brain is 
organic to thought ; * here is a proposition involving concep- 
tions within conceptions — a whole hierarchy of ideas. How 
am I enabled to re-think these in order, to make my way 
from the simpler to the more complex, by any iteration or 
demonstration of the proposition, which no one disputes, or 
by the most precise examination of the details of the organic 
structure itself? 
Thonewho 199. The quarrel of the physiologist with the metaphy- 
'^iid^^^^t si^^^ ^8> ^ ^^^^9 ^^® ^ ^^ ignorantia elenchi on the part 
understand of the former, for which the behaviour of English * metaphy- 
the quos. sicians,' in attempting to assimilate their own procedure to 
that of the natural philosophers, and thus to win the popular 
acceptance which these alone can £Edrly look for, has afiForded 
too much excuse. The question really at issue is not between 
two co-ordinate sciences, as if a theory of the human body 
were claiming also to be a theory of the human soul, and the 
theory of the soul were resisting the aggression. The ques^ 
tion is, whether the conceptions which all the departmental 


sciences alike presuppose shall have an account given of them 
or no. For dispensing with such an account altogether (life 
being short) there is much to be said, if only men would or 
sould dispense with it;, but the physiologist, when he claim& 
that his science shoxdd supersede metaphysic, is not dispen* 
sing with it, but rendering it in a preposterous way. He 
accounts for the formal conceptions in question, in other 
words for thought as it is common to all the sciences, as 
sequent upon the antecedent facts which his science ascer- 
tains — the facts of the animal organisation. But these con- 
ceptions — ^the relations of cause and effect, &c. — are necessary 
to constitute the facts. They are not an ex post fdcto in- 
terpretation of them, but an interpretation without which 
there would be no ascertainable fiicts at all. To account 
for them, therefore, as the result of the facts is to pro- 
ceed as a geologist would do, who should treat the present 
conformation of the earth as the result of a certain 
series of past events, and yet, in describing these, should 
assume the present conformation as a determining element 
in each« 

200. * Empirical psychology,' however, claims to have a Hume's 
way of its own for explaining thought, distinct from that of ^{|[^®^^***^ 
the physiologist, but yet founded on observation, though it is answer it 
admitted that the observation takes place under difficulties. ®^*^®'- 
Its method consists in a history of consciousness, as a series 
of events or successive states observed in the individual by 
Iiimself. By tracing such a chain of de facto sequence it un- 
dertakes to account for the elements common to all know- 
ledge. Its first concern, then, must be, as we have previously 
put it, to ascertain what consciousness is to itself at its 
beginning. No one with Berkeley before him, and accepting 
Berkeley's negative results, could answer this question in 
liOcke's simple way by making the primitive consciousness 
report itself as ah effect of the operation of body. To do 
BO is to transfer a later and highly complex form of con- 
sciousness, whose growth has to be traced, into the earlier 
and simple form from which the growth is supposed to 
begin. This, upon the supposition that the process of con- 
Bciousness by which conceptions are formed is a series of 
psychical events — sl supposition on which the whole method 
of empirical psychology rests — is in principle the same false 
procedure as that which we have imagined in tho case of a 


geologist above. Bat the question is whether, by any pio- ^ 
cedore not open to this condemnation, the theory coxdd seem 
to do what it professes to do— explain thought or ' cognition 
by means of conceptions ' as something which happens in 
sequence upon previous psychical events. Does it not, how- ' 
ever stated, carry with it an implication of the supposed 
later state in the earlier, and is it not solely in virtue of this 
implication that it seems to be able to trace the genesis of 
the later? No one has pursued it with stricter promises, or 
made a fairer show of being faithful to them, than Hume. 
He will begin with simple feeling, as first experienced by the 
individual — unqualified by complex conceptions, physical or 
metaphysical, of matter or of mind — ^and trace the process 
by which it generates the ' ideas of philosophical relation.' 
If it can be shown, as we believe it can be, that, even when 
thus pursued, its semblance of success is due to the fact that, 
by interpreting the earliest consciousness in terms of the 
latest, it puts the latter in place of the former, some suspicion 
may perhaps be created that a natural hibtory of self-con- 
sciousness, and of the conceptions by which it makes the 
world its own, is impossible, since such a history must be of 
events, and self-consciousness is not reducible to a series of 
events ; being already at its beginning formally, or poten- 
tially, or implicitly all that it becomes actually or explicitly 
in developed knowledge. 
It only 201. If Hume were consistent in allowing no other deter- 

do^rob^^aa- Vi^^^^^^^^ ^ *^® impression than that of its having the 
Burning the maximum of vivacity, or to other modes of consciousness 
jfictwn' it y^a^jj f^Q several degrees of their removal from this maximum, 
eount for; he would certainly have avoided the difficulties which attend 
Locke's use of the metaphor of impression, while at the same 
time he would have missed the convenience, involved in this 
use, of being able to represent the primitive consciousness as 
already a recognition of a thing impressing it, and thus an 
' idea of a quality of body.' But at the outset he remarks 
that ' the examination of our sensations ' {i.e. our impressions 
of sensation) ' belongs more to anatomists and natural phi- 
losophers than to moral,' and that for that reason he shall 
begin not with them but with ideas (p. 317). Now this vir- 
tually means that he will begin, indeed, with the feelings he 
finds in himself, but with these as determined by the notion 
that they are results of something else, of which the nature 


is not tor the present explained. Thus, while he does not, 
like Locke, identify onr eadiest consciousness, with a roagh 
and ready physical theory of its cause, he gains the advan* 
tage of this identification in the mind of his reader, who from 
sensa tion, thus apparently defined, transfers a definiteness to hj 
the ideas and secondary impressions as derived from it, |^^^ 
though in the sequel the theory tarns out, if possible at all, non re- 
to be at best a remote result of cnstom and association. We 5^|J^i5 
shall see this more clearly if we look back to the general 
account of impressions and ideas quoted above. * An im- 
pression first strikes upon the senses and makes us perceive 
pleasure or pain, of which a copy is taken by the mind,' called 
an idea. Now if we set aside the notion of a body making 
impact upon a sensuous, and through it upon a mental, 
tablet, pleasure or pain is the impression, which, again, is as 
much or as little in the mind as the idea. Thus the state- 
ment might be re-written as follows : — ^ Pleasure or pain 
makes the mind parceive pleasure or pain, of which a copy 
is taken by the mind.' This, of course, is nonsense ; but 
between this nonsense and the plausibility of the state- 
ment as it stands, the difference depends on the double 
distinction understood in the latter — the distinction (a) be- 
tween the producing cause of the impression and the im- 
pression produced ; and (&) between the impression as 
produced on the senses, and the idea as preserved by the 
mind. This passage, as we shall see, is only a sample of 
many of the same sort. Throughout, however explicitly 
Hume may give warning that the difference between im- 
pression and idea is only one of liveliness, however little 
he may scruple in the sequel to reduce body and mind 
alike to Ihe succession of feelings, his system gains the 
benefit of the contrary assumption which the uncritical reader 
is ready to make for him. As often as the question returns 
whether a phrase, purporting to express an ' abstract concep- 
tion,' expresses any actual idea or no, his test is, ^ Point out 
the impression from which the idea, if there be any, is de- 
rived ' — a test which has clearly no significance if the im- 
pression is merely the idea itself at a livelier stage (for a 
person, claiming to have the idea, would merely have to say 
that he had never known it more lively, and that, therefore, 
it was itself an impression, and the force of the test would 
be gone), but which seems so satisfactory because the imprep- 


sion is regarded as the direct effect of outward things, and 
thns as having a prerogative of reality over any perception 
to which the mind contributes anything of its own. By 
availing himself alternately of this popular conception of the 
impression of sensation and of his own account of it, he gains 
a double means of suppressing any claim of thought to ori- 
ginate. Every idea, by being supposed in a more lively state, 
can be represented as derived fix)m an impression, and thus 
(according to the popular notion) as an effect of something 
which, whatever it is, is not thought. If thereupon it is 
pointed out that this outward something is a form of 
substance which, according to Hume's own showing, is a 
fiction of thought, there is an easy refdge open in the reply 
that 'impression' is only meant to express a lively feel- 
ing, not any dependence upon matter of which we know 
Sotiie'Po- 202. Thus the way is prepared for the jnggle which the 
■itivist' modem popular logic performs with the word * phenomenon' 
w^ *phe- — 3' term which gains acceptance for the theory that turns 
nomena.* upon it because it conveys the notion of a relation between 
a real order and a perceiving mind, and thus gives to those 
who avail themselves of it the benefit of an implication of the 
* noumena ' which they affect to ignore. Hume's inconsis- 
tency, however, stops &r short of that of his later disciples. 
9 JFor tiie purpose of detraction from the work of thought he 
- availed himself, indeed, of that work as embodied in lan- 
guage, but only so far as was necessary to his destructive 
purpose. He did not seriously affect to be reconstructing 
the fabric of knowledge on a basis of fact. There occa- 
sionally appears in him, indeed, something of the charla- 
tanry of common sense in passages, more worthy of Boling- 
broke than himself, where he writes as a champion of facts 
against metaphysical jargon. But when we get behind the 
mask of concession to popular prejudice, partly ironical, 
partly due to his imdoubted vanity, we find much more of 
the ancient sceptic than of the ' positive philosopher.' 
Enential ^^3. The ancient sceptic (at least as represented by the 
diflFerence, ancient philosophers), finding knowledge on the basis of dis- 
betlroon^* tinction between the real and apparent to be impossible, 
Hume and discarded the enterprise of arriving at general truth in oppo- 
tfvisL'**" sition to what appears to the individual at any particular 
instant, and satisfied himself with noting such general ten- 
dencies of expectation and desire as would guide men in the 


conduct of life and enable them to get what they wanted by 
contriyance and persuasion.^ Such a state of mind excludes 
all motive to the * interrogation of nature/ for it recognises 
no ^ nature ' but the present appearance to the individual ; 
and this does not admit of being interrogated. The * posi- 
tive philosopher ' has nothing in common with it but the use, 
in a different sense, of ihe word 'apparent.' He plumes 
himself, indeed, on not going in quest of any ' thing-in-itself ' 
other than what appears to the senses ; but he distinguishes 
between a real and apparent in the order of appearance, and 
considers the real order of appearance, having a permanence 
and uniformity which belong to no feeling as the individual 
feels it, to be the true object of knowledge. No one is more 
severe upon * propensities to believe,* however spontaneously 
suggested by the ordinary sequence of appearances, if they 
are found to conflict with tiiQ order of nature as ascer- 
tained by experimental interrogation ; {.e. with a sequence 
observed (it may be) in but a single instance. Which of the 
two attitudes of thought is the more nearly Hume's, will-, 
come out as we proceed. It was just with the distinction 
between the ' real and fantastic,' as Locke had left it, that 
he had to deal ; and, as will appear, it is finally by a ' propensity 
to feign,' not by a imiform order of natural phenomena, 
that he replaces the real which Locke, according to his first 
mind, had found in archetypal things and their operations 
on us. 

204. We have seen that Berkeley, having reduced * simple He adopt* 
ideas ' to their simplicity by showing the illegitimacy of the doctrine^ 
assumption that they report qualities of a matter which is itself ideas, but 
a complex idea, is only able to make his constructive theory bJJJ^w, 
inarch by the supposition of the reality and knowability of saTing 
* spirit' and relations. * Ideas' are * fleeting, perishable J^^m 
passions ;' but the relations between them are uniform, and 
in virtue of this uniformity the fleeting idea may be inter- 
preted as a symbol of a real order. But such relations, as 
real, imply the presence of the ideas to the constant mind of 
God, and, as knowable, their presence to a like mind in us. 
We have farther seen how little Berkeley, according to the 
method by which he disposed of ^ abstract general ideas,' was 
entitled to such a supposition. Hume sets it aside ; but the 

> Of. Flato's 'Protagoras/ 323, and book of Hume's *Treatue on Humui 
•Theetetoa,' 167, with the condnding Vatuie.' 
paragraphs of the last part of the first 


question is, whether without a supposition yirtually the same 
he can represent the association of ideas as doing the work 
that he assigned to it. 
vn wgard ^ 205. His exclusion of Berkeley's supposition with regard 
"^"^ to * spirit * is stated witiiout disguise, though unfortunately 
not till towards the end of the first book of the ^ Treatise on 
Human Nature/ which could not have run so smoothly if 
the statement had been made at the beginning. It follows 
legitimately from the method, which he inherited, of ' look- 
ing into his mind to see how it wrought.' * From what im- 
pression,' he asks, ^ could the idea of self be derived? It 
must be some one impression that gives rise to every real 
idea. But self or person is not any impression, but that to 
which our several impressions and idesis are supposed to have 
a reference. If any impression gives rise to the idea of self, 
that impression must continue invariably the same through 
the whole course of our lives, since self is supposed to exist 
after that manner. But there is no impression constant and 
invariable. Pain and pleasure, grief and joy, passions and 
sensations succeed each other, and never all exist at Ihe same 
time. It cannot, therefore, be from any of tiiese impressions, 
or from any other, that the idea of self is derived ; and, con- 
sequently, there is no such idea.' Again: ^ When I enter 
most intimately into what is called myself, I always stumble 
on some particular perception of heat or cold, light or shade, 
love or hatred, pain or pleasure. I never can catch myself 
at any time without a perception, and never can ob- 
serve anything but the perception. When my perceptions 
are removed for any time, as by sound sleep, so long am I 
insensible of myself, and may truly be said not to exist.' 
Thus ' men are nothing but a bimdle or collection of different 
perceptions that succeed each other with inconceivable rapi- 
dity, and are in a perpetual flux or movement. Our eyes 
cannot turn in their sockets without varying our perceptions. 
Our thought is still more variable than our sight. • . . nor 
is there any single power of the soul which remains unal- 
terably the same perhaps for one moment. . • • There is 
properly no simplicity in the mind at one time nor identity 
at different' (pp. 533 and 534). 
In regard to 206. His position in regard to ideas of relation cannot be 
relataoofl. qq summarily exhibited. It is from its ambiguity, indeed, 
that his system derives at once its plausibility and its weak- 


0668/ In the firfit place, it is necessary, according to him, 
to distingaish between ^ natural ' and * philosophical relation.' 
The latter is one of which the idea is acquired by the com- 
parison of objects, as distinct &om natural relation or ^ the 
quality by which two ideas are connected together in the 
imagination, and the one naturally ' (Le. according to the 
principle of association) * introduces the other' (p. 322). Of Hiaae- 
philosophical relation — or, according to another form of ex- ^^^ ^ 
pression, of * qualities by which the ideas of philosophical ***' 
relation are produced ' — seven kinds are enumerated ; viz. 
' resemblance, identity, relations of time and place, propor- 
tion in quantity and number, degrees in quality, contrariety, 
and causation' (ibid., and p. 872). Some of these do, some 
do not, apparently correspond to the qualities by which the 
mind is naturally * conyeyed from one idea to another ; ' or 
which, in other words, constitute the ' gentle force ' that de- 
termines the order in which ihe imagination habitually puts 
together ideas. Freedom in the conjunction of ideas, indeed, 
is implied in the term 'imagination,' which is only thus 
differenced from ' memory ;' but, as a matter of fact, it com- 
monly only connects ideas which are related to each other in 
the way either of resemblance, or of contiguity in time and 
place, or of cause 'and effect. Other relations of the philo- 
sophical sort are the opposite of natural. Thus, * distance 
will be allowed by philosophers to be a true relation, because 
we acquire an idea of it by the comparing of objects ; but in 
a common way we say, '^ that nothing can be more distant 
than such or such things from each other ; nothing can have 
less relation " ' (ibid.). 

207. Hume's classification of philosophical relations evi- It oone- 
dently serves the same purpose as Locke's, of the *four sorts toLocke's 
of agreement or disagreement between ideas,' in the per- acconnt of 
ception of which knowledge consists;* but there are some ^Z^^^ 
important discrepancies. Locke's second sort, which he between 
awkwardly describes as ' agreement or disagreement in the ^^^^^ 
way of relation,' may fairly be taken to cover three of Hume's 
kinds ; viz. relations of time and place, proportion in quan- 
tity or number, and degrees in any quality. About Locke's 
first sort, * identity and diversity,' there is more difBiculty. 
Under * identity,' as was pointed out above, he includes the 

* See above, paiagraph 25 and the passagee from Locke there referred to. 


xelations which Hume distinguishes as 'identity proper* and 
^ resemblance/ * Diversity* at first sight might seem to cor- 
respond to ' contrariety ;' bnt the latter, according to Hume's 
usage, is much more restricted in meaning. Difference of 
number and difference of kind, which he distinguishes as the 
opposites severally of identity and resemblance, though they 
come under Locke's ' diversity,' are not by Hume considered 
relations at all, on the principle that ' no relation of any kind 
can subsist without some degree of resemblance.' They are 
' rather a negation of relation than anything real and positive/ 
' Contrariety ' he reckons only to obtain between ideas of ex- 
istence and non-existence, ' which are plainly resembling as 
implying both of them an idea of the object ; though the 
latter excludes the object from all times and places in which 
it is supposed not to exist' (p. 323). There remain 'cause 
and effect ' in Hume's list ; ' co-existence' and 'real existence' 
in Locke's. 'Co-existence' is not expressly identified by 
Locke with the relation of cause and effect, but it is with 
' necessaiy connection.' It means specially, it will be remem- 
bered,^ the co-existence of ideas, not as constituents of a 
'nominal essence,' but as qualities of real substances in 
nature; and our knowledge of this depends on our knowledge 
of necessaiy connection between the qualities, either as one 
supposing the other (which is the form of necessary connection 
between primary qualities), or as one being the effect of the 
other (which is the form of necessary connection between the 
ideas of secondary qualities and the primaiy ones). Having 
no knowledge of necessary connection as in real substances, 
we have none of ' co-existence ' in the above sense, but only 
of the present union of ideas in any particular experiment.' 
The parallel between this doctrine of Locke's and Hume's of 
cause and effect will appear as we proceed. To ' real exist- 
ence,' since the knowledge of it according to Locke's account 
is not a perception of agreement between ideas at all, it ia 
not strange that nothing should correspond in Hume's list of 
Oonld 208. It is his method of dealing with these ideas of philo- 

^^\r"' 8opl^i<5al relation that is specially characteristic of Hume, 
admit idea Let US, then. Consider how the notion of relation altogether is 
ofrel^on affected by his reduction of the world of consciousness to 

nt aiir *^ 

' See above, paragraph 122. 

* L^cke, Book it. sec. iii. chap. xiv. ; and above, paragraph 121 and 122. 


impressions and ideas. What is an impression 9 To this, 
as we have seen, the only direct answer given by him is that 
it is a feeling which mnst be more lively before it becomes 
less so.^ For a fnrther account of what is to be understood 
by it we must look to the passages where the goveming 
terms of * school-metaphysics ' are, one after the other, shown 
to be unmeaning, because not taken from impressions. Thus, 
when the idea of substance is to be reduced to an ' unintel- 
ligible chimsera,' it is asked whether it * be derived from the 
impressions of sensation or reflection 9 If it be conveyed to 
us by our senses, I ask, which of them, and after what 
manner ? K it be perceived by the eyes, it must be a colour ; 
if by the ears, a sound ; if by the palate, a taste ; and so of 
the other senses. But I believe none will assert that sub- 
stance IB either a colour, or a sound, or a taste. The idea 
of substance must therefore be derived from an impression of 
reflection, if it really exist. But the impressions of reflectiou 
resolve themselves into our passions and emotions' (p. 824). 
From the polemic against abstract ideas we learn frirther 
that * the appearance of an object to the senses ' is the same 
thing as an ' impression becoming present to the mind ' (p. 
327). That is to say, when we talk of an impression of an\ y' 
object, it is not to be understood that the feeling is deter- \iy 
mined by reference to anything other than itself: it is itself ' 
the object. To the same purpose, in tlie criticism of the* 
notion of an external world, we are told that * the senses are 
incapable of giving rise to the notion of the continued exist- 
ence of their objects, after they no longer appear to the 
senses ; for that is a contradiction in terms ' (since the ap- 
pearance is the object) ; and that ^ they offer not their im- 
pressions as the images of something distinct, or independent, 
or external, because they convey to us nothing but a single 
perception, and never give us tiie least intimation of any- 
thing beyond' (p. 479). The distinction between impres- 
sion of sensation and impression of reflection, then, can- 
not, any more than that between impression and idea, be 
r^^arded as either really or apparently a distinction between 
outer and inner. 'All impressions are internal and perishing 
existences' (p. 483); and, 'everything that enters the mind 
being in reality as the impression, 'tis impossible anything 
should to feeling appear different' (p. 480). 

* See above, paragraphB 195 and 197. 



Only in re- 
gard to 
and causa- 
tion that 
he Bees 
any diffi- 

These he 
treats as 
fictions re- 
relations ' 
of ideas ; 

209. This amonnts to a full acceptance of Berkeley's doc- 
trine of sense; and the question necessarily arises — such being 
the impression, and all ideas being impressions grown weaker, 
can there be an idea of relation at all 9 Is it not open to the 
same challenge which Hume offers to those who talk of an 
idea of substance or of spirit ? * It is from some one impres- 
sion that every real idea is derived.' What, then, is the one 
impression from which the idea of relation is derived 9 * If 
it be perceived by the eyes, it must be a colour ; if by the 
ears, a sound ; if by the palate, a taste ; and so of the other 
senses.' There remain ^our passions and emotions;' but 
what passion or emotion is a resemblance, or a proportion, 
or a relation of cause and effect P 

210. Bespect for Hume's thoroughness as a philosopher 
must be qualified b^ the observation that he does not afctempt 
to meet tiiis difficulty in its generality, but only as it affects 
the relations of identity and causation. The truth seems to 
be that he wrote with Berkeley steadily before his mind ; and 
it was Berkeley's treatment of these two relations in parti- 
cular as not sensible but intelligible, and his assertion of a 
philosophic Theism on the strength of their mere intelligi- 
bility, that determined Hume, since it would have been an 
anachronism any longer to treat them as sensible, to dispose 
of them altogether. The condition of his doing so with 
success was that, however unwarrantably, he should treat 
the other relations as sensible. The language, which seems 
to express ideas of the two questionable relations, he has to 
account for as the result of certain impressions of reflection, 
called * propensities to feign,' which in their turn have to be 
accounted for as resulting from the natv/ral relations of ideas 
according to the definition of these quoted above,* as * the 
qualities by which one idea habitually introduces another.* 
Among these, as we saw, he included not only resemblance 
and contiguity in time or place, but ^ cause and effect.' 
* There is no relation,' he says, * which produces a stronger 
connection in the fisincy than this.' But in this, as in much 
of the language which gives the first two Parts their plausi- 
bility, he is taking advantage of received notions on the part 
of the reader, which it is the work of the rest of the book to 
set aside. In any sense, according to him, in which it differs 

> See abore, pangraph 206. 


from usual contiguity, the relation of cause and e£Pect is itself 
reducible to a * propensity to feign/ arising from the other 
natural relations ; but when the reader is told of its producing 
* a strong connection in the fancy/ he is not apt to think of 
it as itself nothing more than the product of such a con- 
nection. For the present, however, we have only to point 
out that Hume, when he co-ordinates it with the other 
natural relations, must be understood to do so provisionally. 
According to him it is derived, while they are primary. Upon 
them, then, rested the possibility of filling the gap between the i-o- from 
occurrence of single impressions, none * determined by refer- JJJ[^ ^^^ 
ence to anything other than itself,' and what we are pleased contiguity, 
to call our knowledge, with its fictions of mind and thing, 
of real and apparent, of necessary as distinct from usual 

21 1. We will begin with Resemblance. As to this, it will 
be said, it is an affectation of subtlety to question whether 
there can be an impression of it or no. The difiScxdty only 
arises from our regarding the perception of resemblance as 
different from, and subsequent to, the resembling sensations ; 
whereas, in fact, the occurrence of two impressions of sense, . 
such as (let us say) yellow and red, is itself the impression of 
their likeness and unlikeness. Hume himself, it may be 
further urged, at any rate in regard to resemblance, antici- 
pates this solution of an imaginaiy difficulty by his important 
division of philosophical relations into two classes (p. 872) — 
such as depend entirely on the ideas which we compare 
together, and such as may be changed without any change 
in the ideas ' — and by his inclusion of resemblance in the 
former class. 

212. Now we gladly admit the mistake of supposing that X01 
sensations undetermined by relation first occur, and that ^^!,^^ 
afterwards we become conscious of their relation in the don? 
way of likeness or unlikeness. Apart from such relation, 
it is true, the sensations would be nothing. But this ad- 
mission involves an important qualification of the doctrine 
that impressions are single, and that the mind (according 
to Hume's awkward figure) is a ^bundle or collection of 
these,' succeeding each other ' in a perpetual flux or move- 
ment.' It implies that the single impression in its singleness 
is what it is through relation to another, which must there- 


fore be present along with it; and that thus, thongh they 
may occur in a perpetual flnx of succession — every turn of 
the eyes in their sockets, as Hume truly says, giving a new 
one — ^yet, just so £Eir as they are qualified by likeness or un- 
likeness to each other, they must be taken out of that suc- 
cession by something which is not itself in it, but is indivisibly 
present to every moment of it. This we may call soul, or 
mind, or what we will ; but we must not identify it with the 
brain^ either directly or by implication (as we do when we 
' refer to the anatomist ' for an account of it), since by the 
brain is meant something material, ue. divisible, which the 
imifying subject spoken of, as feeling no less than as thinking, 
cannot be. In short, any such modification of Hume's doc- 
trine of the singleness and successiveness of impressions as 
will entitle us to speak of their carrying with them, though 
single and successive, the consciousness of their resemblance 
to each other, will also entitle us to speak of their carrying 
with them a reference to that which is not itself any single 
impression, but is permanent throughout the impressions; 
and the whole ground of Hume's polemic against the idea 
of self or spirit is removed.* 
Distiudaon 213. The above admission, however, does not dispose of 
between the qucstion about ideas of resemblance. A feeling qualified 
foei^*°* by relation of resemblance to other feelings is a different 
and idea of thing from an idea of that relation — different with all the 
JJ^^ difference which Hume ignores between feeling and thought, 
between consciousness and self-consciousness. The qualifi- 
cation of successive feelings by mutual relation implies, 
indeed, the presence to them of a subject permanent and 
inmiaterial (i. e. not in time or space) ; but it does not imply 
that this subject presents them to itself as related objects, 
permanent with its own permanence, which abide and may 
be considered apart from ^ the circumstances in time ' of their 
occurrence. Yet such presentation is supposed by all language 
other than interjectional. It is it alone which can give us 
names of things, as distinct from noises prompted by the 
feelings as they occur. Of course it is open to any one to 
my that by an idea of resemblance he does not mean any 
thought involving the self-conscious presentation spoken of, 
but merely a feeling qualified by resemblance, and not at its 

> It 18, of coarse, qnite a different properly, the whole body) is oiganie to it 
thing to say that the brain (ozv more ' See above, paragraph 206. 


liyeliest stage. Thus Hume tella ns that by ' idea ' he merely 
means a feeling less lively than it has been, and that by idea 
of anything he implies no reference to anything ofcher than 
the idea,^ but means just a related idea, i.e, a feeling qualified 
by * natural relation ' to other feelings. It is by this thought- 
ful abnegation of thought, as we shall find, that he arrives at 
his sceptical result. But language (for the reason mentioned) 
would not allow him to be faithful to the abnegation. He 
could not make such a profession without being fabe to it. 
This appears abready in his account of ' complex ' and ^ ab- 
stract ' ideas. 

214. His account of the idea of a substance (p. 324) is Substancw 
simply Locke's, as Locke's would become upon elimination of —«>ii^- 
the notion that there is a real ' something ' in which the col- ideas. 
lection of ideas subsist, and from which they result. It thus 
avoids all difficulties about the relation between nominal and 

real essence. Just as Locke says that in the case of a ' mixed 
mode ' the nominal essence is the real, so Hume would say of 
a substance. The only difference is that while the collection 
of ideas, called a mixed mode, does not admit of addition 
without a change of its name, that called a substance does. 
Upon discovery of the solubility of gold in aqua regia we add 
that idea to the collection, to which the name ^ gold ' has pre- 
viously been assigned, without disturbance in the use of the 
name, because the name already covers not only the ideas of 
certain qualities, but also the idea of a * principle of union ' 
between them, which will extend to any ideas presented 
along with them. As this principle of union, however, is not 
itself any * real essence,' but ^ part of the complex idea,' the 
question, so troublesome to Locke, whether a proposition 
about gold asserts real co-existence or only the inclusion of 
an idea in a nominal essence, will be supei^uous. How the 
*■ principle of union ' is to be explained, will appear below.' 

215. There are names, then, which represent ' collections How can 
of ideas.' How can we explain such coUection if ideas are ^•^f l^ 
merely related feelings grown fainter? Do we, when we use coUecud? 
one of these names significantly, recall, though in a fainter 

form, a seres of feelings that we have experienced in the 
process of collection? Does the chemist, when he says that 
gold is soluble in aqua regia, recall the visual and tactual 

> See abofve, paragraph 208. * Paragraph 303, and the following. 

vol*- ^- ^ ><s^E LiF;;; 

f ^^ rrTHF 

UN ^-^^F. "RSI 


feeling wliich he experienced when he found it soluble? If 
80, as that feeling took its character from relation to a multi- 
tude of other ^ complex ideas,' he must on the same principle 
recall in endless series the sensible occurrences from which 
each constituent of each constituent of these was deriyed ; 
and a like process must be gone through when gold is pro- 
nounced ductile, malleable, &c. But this would be, according 
to the figurewhich Hume himself adopts, to recall a 'perpetual 
flux.' The very term * collection of ideas,' indeed, if this be 
the meaning of ideas, is an absurdity, for how can a perpetual 
flux be collected ? If we turn for a solution of the difficulty 
to the chapter where Hume expressly discusses the significance 
of general names, we shall find that it is not the question we 
have here put, and which flows directly from his account of 
ideas, that he is there treating, but an entirely different one, 
and one that could not be raised till for related feeling had 
been substituted the thought of an object under relations. 
Are there 216. The chapter mentioned concerns the question which 
WeM?^ arises out of Locke's pregnant statement that words and 
Berkeley ideas are * particular in their existence ' even when * general 
Mid. 'yeg ^^ their signification.' From this statement we saw' that 
Berkeley derived his explanation of the apparent generality 
of ideas — the explanation, namely, which reduces it to a rela- 
tion, yet not such a one as would affect the nature of the idea 
it-self, which is and remains ^particular,' but a symbolical 
relation between it and other particular ideas for which it is 
taken to stand. An idea, however, that carries with it a 
consciousness of symbolical relation to other ideas, cannot 
but be qualified by this relation. The generality must 
become part of its ' nature,' and, accordingly, the distinction 
between idea and thing being obliterated, of the nature of 
things. Thus Berkeley virtually arrives at a result which 
renders unmeaning his preliminary exclusion of universality 
from *the absolute, positive nature or conception of anything.* 
Hume seeks to avoid it by putting * custom ' in the place of 
the consciousness of symbolical relation. True to his voca- 
tion of explaining away all functions of thought that will not 
sort with the treatment of it as ^ decaying sense,' he would 
resolve that idea of a relation between certain ideas, in virtue 
of which one is taken to stand for the rest, into the de facto 

^ Abore, pamgraphs 182 and 188. 


sequence upon one of them of the rest. Here, as everywhere 
else, he would make related feelings do instead of relations 
of ideas ; but whether the related feelings, as he is obliged 
to describe them, do not already presuppose relations of ideas 
in distinction from feelings, remains to be seen. 

217. The question about * generality of signification,' as Hume 'no* 
he puts it, comes to this. In every proposition, though its «»™ply- 
subject be a common noun, we necessarily present to our- 
selves some one individual object 'with aU its particular 
circumstances and proportions.' How then can the propo- 
sition be general in denotation and connotation P How can 

it be made with reference to a multitude of individual objects 
other than that presented to the mind, and how can it con- 
cern only such of the qualities of the latter as are common 
to the multitude ? The first part of the question is answered 
as follows : — * When we have found a resemblance among jj^^ j,^ 
several objects that often occur to us, we apply the same accounts 
name to all of them . . . whatever differences may appear ^p^p^r- 
among them. After we have acquired a custom of this kind, ance of 
the hearing of that name revives the idea of one of these *^*^«j^^«'"g 
objects, and makes the imagination conceive it with all its 
particular circumstances and proportions. But as the same 
word is supposed to have been frequently applied to other 
individuals, that are different in many respects from that 
idea which is immediately present to the mind, the word 
not being able to revive the idea of all these individuals, only 
touches the soul and revives that custom which we have 
acquired by surveying them. They are not really and in 
feet present to the mind, but only in power. . . . The word 
raises up an individual idea along with a certain custom, 
and that custom produces any other individual one for which 
we may have occasion* • • . Thus, should we mention the 
word triangle and form the idea of a particular equilateral 
one to correspond to it, and should we afterwards assert 
that the three angles of a triangle are equal to each other, the 
other individuals of a scalenum and isosceles, which we over- 
looked at first, immediately crowd in upon us and make us 
perceive the falsehood of this proposition, though it be true 
with relation to that idea which we had formed ' (p. 328). 

218. Next, as to the question concerning connotation: — 
'The mind woidd never have dreamed of distinguishingafigure 
from the body figured, as being in reality neither distin- 

M 2 


gnisliable nor different nor separable, did it not observe that 
even in this simplicity there might be contained many diffe- 
rent resemblances and relations. Thns, when a globe of 
white marble is presented, we receive only the impression of 
a white colour disposed in a certain form, nor are we able to 
distinguish and separate the colour from the form. But 
observing afterwards a globe of black marble and a cube of 
white, and comparing them with our former object^ we find 
two separate resemblances in what formerly seemed, and 
really is, perfectly inseparable. After a little more practice 
of this kind, we begin to distinguish the figure from, the 
colour by a distinction of reason ; — i,e, we consider the figure 
and colour together, since they are, in effect, the same and 
indistinguishable ; but still view them in different aspects 
according to the resemblances of which they are susceptible. 
... A person who desires us to consider the figure of a 
globe of white marble without thinking on its colour, desires 
an impossibility ; but his meaning is, that we should consider 
the colour and figure together, but still keep in our eye the 
resemblance to the globe of black marble or that to any other 
globe whatever' (p. 333). 
Hii ae* 219. It is clear that the process described in these passages 

*^*"°MSt supposes * ab initio * the conversion of a feeling into a con- 
' ideas* are ception; in other words, the substitution of the definite 
concep- individuality of a thing, thought of under attributes, for the 
feelings, mere singleness in time of a feeling that occurs after another 
and before a third. The ^ finding of resemblances and differ* 
ences among objects that often occur to us ' implies that 
each object is distinguished as one and abiding from mani- 
fold occurrences, in the way of related feelings, in which it 
is presented to us, and that these accordingly are regarded 
as repref^enting permanent relations or qualities of the object. 
Thus from being related feelings, whether more or less * viva- 
cious,' they have become, in the proper sense, ideas of 
relation. The difficulty about the use of general names, as 
Hume puts it, really arises just from the extent to which 
this process of determination by ideas of relation, and vnth 
it the removal of the object of thought fix)m simple feeling, 
is supposed to have gone. It is because the idea is so com- 
plex in its individuality, and because this qualification is not 
understood to be the work of thought, by comparison and 


contrast accnmulating attributes on an object which it itself 
constitutes, but is regarded as given ready-made in an im- 
pression (i.6. a feeling), that the question arises whether a 
general proposition is really possible or no. To all intents 
and purposes Hume decides that it is not. The mind is so 
tied down to the particular collection of qualities which is 
given to it or which it * finds/ that it cannot present one of 
them to itself without presenting all. Having never found 
a triangle that is not equilateral or isosceles or scalene, 
we cannot imagine one, for ideas can only be copies of 
impressions, and the imagination, though it has a certain 
freedom in combining what it finds, can invent nothing that 
it does not find. Thus the idea, represented by a general 
name and of which an assertion, general in form, is made, 
must always have a multitude of other qualities besides those 
common to it with the other individuals to which the name 
is applicable. If any of these, however, were included in the 
predicate of the proposition, the sleeping custom, which de- 
termines the mind to pass from the idea present to it to the 
others to which the name has been applied, would be awak- 
ened, and it would be seen at once that the predicate is not 
true of them. When I make a general statement about ^ the 
hoi'se,' there must be present to my mind some particular 
horse of my acquaintance, but if on the strength of this I 
asserted that ^ the horse is a grey-haired animal,' the custom 
of applying the name without reference to colour would return 
upon me and correct me — as it would not if the predicate 
were * four-footed.' 

220. It would seem then that the predicate may, though ^J ^^{^ 
the subject cannot, represent either a single quality, or a set the point 
of qualities which falls far short even of those common to the i° wgard 
class, much more of those which characterise any individual, dioau ot^ 
If I can think these apart, or have an idea of them, as the propoBi- 
predicate of a proposition, why not (it may be asked) as the 
subject? It may be said, indeed, with truth, that it is a 
mistake to think of the subject as representing one idea and 
the predicate another ; that the proposition as a whole re- 
presents one idea, in the sense of a conception of relation 
between attributes, and that at bottom this account of it is 
consistent with Locke's definition of knowledge as a percep- 
tion of relation between ' ideas,' since with him ^ ideas ' and 



'qualities' are used interchangeably.' It is no less true, 
however^ that the relation between attributes^ which the 
proposition states, is a relation between them in an indi- 
vidual subject. It is the nature of the individuality of this 
subject, then, that is really in question. Mast it, as Hume 
supposed, be ^ considered ' under other qualities than those 
to which the predicate relates ? When the proposition only 
concerns the relation between certain qualities of a spherical 
figure, must the figure still be considered as of a certaiii 
colour and material? 
As to the 221. The possibility of such a question being raised implies 
equiTo^ ^* *^** *^® ^*®P ^"^ ^®^ already taken, which Hume ignored, 
catesbe- from feeling to thought. His doctrine on the matter arises 
mmrieness ^^ ^*^ mental equivocation, of which the effects on Locke 
of feeling have been already noticed,^ between the mere singleness of a 
v^ua^k f®^l"ig i^ *i°^c ^°d the individuality of the object of thought 
of coDcep- as a complex of relations. If the impression is the single 
tion. feeling which disappears with a turn of the head, and the 

idea a weaker impression, every idea must indeed be in one 
sense individual,' but in a sense that renders all predication 
impossible because it empties the idea of all content. Eeally, 
according to Hume's doctrine of general names, it is indivi-* 
dual in a sense which is the most remote opposite of this, as 
a multitude of ^ different resemblances and relations ' in * sim- 
plicity.' It is just such an individual as Locke supposed to 
be found (so to speak) ready-made in nature, and fi'om which 
he supposed the mind successively to abstract ideas less and 
less determinate. Such an object Hume, coming after Ber- 
keley, could not regard iu Locke's fashion as a separate 
material existence outside consciousness. The idea with him 
is a * copy ' not of a thing but of an * impression,' but to the 
impression he transfers all that individualization by qualities 
which Locke had ascribed to the substance found in nature ; 
and from the impression again transfers it to the idea which 
*is but the weaker impression.' Thus the singleness in time 
of the impression becomes the ' simplicity ' of an object ' con- 
taining many different resemblances and relations,' and the 
individuality of the subject of a proposition, instead of being 
regarded in its true light as a temporary isolation fix)m other 
relations of those for the time under view — an individuality 

' See abovft, paragraph 17. 

' See above, paragraphs 47, 95, &c 


whicli is perpetuallj shifting its limits as thought proceeds — 
becomes an indiyidnality fixed once for all by what is given 
in the impression. Because, as is supposed, I can only ^ see ' 
a globe as of a certain colour and material, I can only think 
of it as such. If the * sight ' of it had been rightly inter- 
preted as itself a complex work of thought, successively de- 
taching felt things from the ' flux ' of feelings and determining 
these by relations similarly detached, the difficulty of thinking 
certain of these — e.g, those designated as * figure' — apart 
from the rest would have disappeared. It would have been 
seen that this was merely to separate in reflective analysis 
what had been gradually put together in the successive 
synthesis of perception. But such an interpretation of the 
supposed datvmt of sense would have been to elevate thought 
from the position which Hume assigned to it, as a ^ decaying 
sense,' to that of being itself the organizer of the world which 
it knows.' 

222. Here, then, as elsewhere, the embarrassment of Besuitisa 
Hume's doctrine is nothing which a better statement of it ^^^ 
could avoid. Nay, so dexterous is his statement^ that only mitspredi- 
upon a close scrutiny does the embarrassment disclose itself, cation, but 
To be faithful at once to his reduction of the impression to gingular. 
simple feeling, and to his account of the idea as a mere copy 
of the impression, was really impossible. K he had kept his 
word in regard to the impression, he must have found thought 
filling the void left by the disappearance, under Berkeley's 
criticism, of that outward system of things which Locke had 
commonly taken for granted. He preferred fidelity to his 
account of the idea, and thus virtually restores the fiction 
which represents the real world as consisting of so many, 
materially separate, bundles of qualities — a fiction which even 
Locke in his better moments was beginning to outgrow — with 
only the difference that for the separation of ^ substances ' in 
space he substitutes a separation of ^ impressions ' in time. 
That thought (the * idea ') can but faintly copy feeling (the 
' impression ') he consistently maintains, but he avails him- 
self of the actual determination of feeling by reference to an 
object of thought — the determination expressed by such 
phrases as impression of a man, impression of a globe, &c. — to 
charge the feeling with a content which it only derives from 

> The phrase 'decajing sense' belongs to Hobbes, but its meaning is adoptod 
hy Home. 


such determinatioD^ while yet he denies it 67 this means 
predication can be accounted for, as it oonld not be if our 
consciousness consisted of mere feelings and their copies, but 
only in the form of the singular proposition ; because the 
object of thought determinei by relations, being identified 
with a single feeling, must be limited by the ' this * or * that ' 
which expresses this singleness <tf feeling. It is really thU 
or tJiat globe, this or that man, that is the subject of the pro- 
position, according to Hume, even when in form it is general. 
It is true that the general name * globe ' or * man ' not merely 
represents a * particular ' globe or man, though that is all 
that is presented to the mind, but also ^ raises up a custom 
which produces any other individual idea for which we may 
have occasion.' As this custom, however, is neither itself an 
idea nor affects the singleness of the subject idea, it does not 
constitute any distinction between singular and general pro- 
positions, but only between two sorts of the singular propo- 
sition according as it does, or does not, suggest an indefinite 
series of other singular propositions, in which the same qua- 
lities are aflSrmed of different individual ideas to which the 
subject-name has been applied. 
All propo- 223. A customary sequence, then, of individual ideas upon 
Ptrict^ in ^^^^ other is the reality, which through the delusion of words 
same (as we must suppose) has given rise to the fiction of there 

Locke's being such a thing as general knowledge. We say * fiction,' 
proposi- for with the possibility of general propositions, as the Greek 
wal^ex^^ philosophers once for all pointed out, stands or falls tiie pos- 
•Rtence. sibility of science. Locke was so far aware of this that, upon 
the same principle which led him to deny the possibility of 
general propositions concerning real existence, he ^ suspected' 
a science of nature to be impossible, and only found an ex- 
emption for moral and mathematical truth from this con- 
demnation in its * bare ideality.' Hume does away with the 
exemption. He applies to all propositions alike the same 
limitation which Locke applies to those concerning real ex- 
istence. With Locke there may very well be a proposition 
which to the mind, as well as in form, is general — one of 
which the subject is an * abstract general idea ' — ^but such 
proposition * concerns not existence.' As knowledge of real 
existence is limited to the * actual present sensation,' so a 
pi-oposition about such existence is limited to what is given 
in such sensation. It is a real truth that this piece of gold 


18 now being dissolved in aqua regia, when the ^ particular 
experiment' is going on under our eyes, but the general 
proposition ^ gold is soluble ' is only an analysis of a nominal 
essence. With Hume the distinction between propositions 
that do, and those that do not, ^ concern existence ' disappears. 
Every proposition is on the same footing in this respect, 
since it must needs be a statement about an ' i^ea,' and every 
idea exists. ^ Every object that is presented must necessarily 
be existent. . . . Whatever we conceive, we conceive to 
be existent. Any idea we please to form is the idea of a 
being ; and the idea of a being is any idea we please to form ' 
(p. 870). But since, according to him, the idea cannot be 
separated, as Locke supposed it could, from the conditions 
* that determine it to this or that particular existence,' pro- 
positions of the sort which Locke understood by ' general 
propositions concerning substances,' though if they were 
possible they would ^ concern existence' as much as any, are 
simply impossible. Hume, in short, though he identifies the 
real and nominal essences which Locke had distinguished, 
yet limits the nominal essence by the same ' particularity in 
space and time ' by which Locke had limited the reaL 

224. A great advance in simplification has been made when The qnM« 
the false sort of * conceptualism ' has thus been got rid of — tiiTi^St*- 
that conceptualism which opposes knowing and being under ^propo- 
the notion that things, though merely individual in reality, "^°^j" 
may be known as general. This riddance having been the yitai 
achieved, as it was by Hume, the import of the proposition ^^^ 
becomes the central question of philosophy, the answer to 
which must determine our theory of real existence just as 
much as of the mind. The issue may be taken on the pro- 
position in its singular no less than in its general form. 
The weakness of Hume's opponents, indeed, has lain pri- 
marily in their allowing that his doctrine would account for 
any significant predication whatever, as distinct from excla- 
mations prompted by feelings as they occur. This has been 
the inch, which once yielded, the full ell of his nominalism 
has been easily won ; just as Locke's empiricism becomes in- 
vincible as soon as it is admitted that qualified things are 
' found in nature ' without any constitutive action of the 
mind. As the only effective way of dealing with Locke is 
to ask, — After abstraction of all that he himself admitted 
to be the creation of thought, what remains to be merely 



fonndP — 60 Hume must be met in limine by the questiod 
whether, apart from such ideas of relation as according* to 
his own showing are not simple impressions, so much as the 
singular proposition is possible. If not, then the singulariiy 
of such proposition does not consist in auy singleness of 
presentation to sense ; it is not the * particidarity in time ' of 
a present feeling ; and the exclusion of generality, whether 
in thoughts or in things, as following from the supposed 
necessity of such singleness or particularity, is. quite ground- 

Not pela- 
tiona of re- 
only, but 
those of 

treated b J 
Hume as 

225. Hitherto the idea of relation which we have had 
specially in view has been that of relation in the way of 
resemblance, and the propositions have been such as repre- 
sent the most obvious * facts of observation ' — facts about 
this or that * body,' man or horse or ball. We have seen 
that these already suppose the thought of an object qualified, 
not transitory as are feelings, but one to which feelings are 
referred on tiieir occurrence as resemblances or differences 
between it and other objects ; but that by an equivocation, 
which unexamined phraseology covers, between the thought 
of such an object and feeling proper — as if becaase we talk 
of seeing a man, therefore a man were a feeling of colour 
— Hume is able to represent them as mere data of sense, 
and thus to ignore the difference between related feelings 
and ideas of relation. Thus the first step has been taken 
towards transferring to the sensitive subject, as merely sensi- 
tive, the power of thought and significant speech. The 
next is to transfer to it ideas of those other relations ^ which 
Hume classifies as ^ relations of time and place, proportion 
in quantity or number, degrees in any quality ' (p. 368). This 
done, it is sufficiently equipped for achieving its deliverance 
from metaphysics. An animal, capable of experiments 

I The course which our examination 
of Hume should take was marked out, 
it will be remembered, by his enumera- 
tion of the * natural* relations that re- 
gulate the association of ideas. It 
might seem a departure from this 
course to proceed, as in the text, from 
the relation of resemblance to ' relations 
of time and place, proportion in quan- 
tity or number, and degrees of any 
quality,' since these appear in Hume's 
•numeration, not of *naturaly but of 
* phiiosnphieal * relations. Such de- 
parture, however, is Vhe consequence of 

Hume's own procedure. Whether he 
considered these relations merely equi- 
valent to the ' natural ones ' of resem- 
blance and contiguity, he does not ex- 
pressly say ; but his reduction of the 
principles of mathematics to data of 
sense implies that he did so. The 
treatment of degrees in quality and 
proportions in quantity as sensible im- 
plies that the difference between resem- 
blance and measured resemblanoa. be- 
tween contiguity and measured con- 
tiguity, is ignored. 


eonoeming matter of fact, and of reasoning concerning 
qnantitj and number, would certainly have some excuse for 
throwing into the fire all books which sought tb make it 
ashamed of its animalily.^ 

226. In thus leaving mathematics and a limited sort of fle dnirs 
experimental physics (limited by the exclusion of all general ^^* 
inference from the experiment) out of the reach of his certainty 
scepticism, and in making them his basis of attack upon ^i^^^^*^' 
what he conceived to be the more pretentious claims of the aune 
knowledge, Hume was again following the course marked out l^^** 
for him by Locke. It will be remembered that Locke, even 
when his ' suspicion ' of knowledge is at its strongest, still 
finds solid ground (a) in ^ particular experiments ' upon 
nature, expressed in singular propositions as opposed to 
assertions of uniyersal or necessary connexion, and (b) in 
mathematical truths which are at once general, certain, and 
instructive, because ^barely ideal/ AU speculative propositions 
that do not fall under one or other of these heads are either 
* trifling ' or merely * probable.' Hume draws the line between 
certainty and probability at the same point, nor in regard to 
the ground of certainty as to * matter of fact or existence * 
is there any essential difference between him and his master. 
As this ground is the ^ actual present sensation ' with the 
one, so it is the ' impression ' with the other ; and it is only 
when the proposition becomes universal or asserts a neces- 
sary connection, that the certainty, thus given, is by either 
supposed to fail. It is true that with Locke this authority 
of the sensation is a derived authority, depending on its 
reference to a * body now operating upon us,' while with 
Hume, so far as he is faithful to his profession of discarding 
snch reference, it is original. But with each alike the fun- 
damental notion is that a feeling must be ^ true while it 
lasisy' and that in regard to real existence or matter of fact 
no other truth can be known but this. Neither perceives 
that a truth thus restricted is no truth at all — ^nothing that 
can be stated even in a singular proposition ; that the ^ par- 
ticularity in time,' on which is supposed to depend the real 

> 'If we take ID our hand any Tolume fact and resvUance? No. Commit it 

of divinitj or school-metaphysics, for then to the llames, for it can contain 

instance, letns ask, Jhes U contain any nothing but sophistry and illusion.* — 

abstract reasoning for quantity or num- * Inquiry concerning the Human Under- 

berl No. Does it contain any expert- standing,* at the end. 
mmtal reasoning concerning matter qf 




more defl- 
nite as to 

and do6B 
not admit 
of mathe- 
matical to 
— here 

certainty of the simple feeling, is just that which depriyea 
it of significance * — ^because neither is really £Eiithfal to the 
restriction. Each allows himself to substitute fbr the mo- 
mentary feeling an object qualified by relations, which are 
the exact opposite of momentary feelings. * If I myself 
see a man walk on the ice,' says Locke (iv, xv. 5), * it is 
past probability, it is knowledge : ' nor would Hume, though 
ready enough on occasion to point out that what is seen 
must be a colour, have any scruple in assuming that such a 
complex judgment as the above so-called ^ sight ' has the 
certainty of a simple impression. It is only in bringing to 
bear upon thecharacteristicadmission of Locke's FourthBook, 
that no general knowledge of nature can be more than prob- 
able, a more definite notion of what probability is, and in 
exhibiting the latent inconsistency of this admission with 
Locke's own doctrine of ideas as effects of a causative sub- 
stance, that he modifies the theory of physical certainty 
which he inherited. In their treatment of mathematical 
truths on the other hand, of propositions involving relations 
of distance, quantity and degree, a fundamental discrep- 
ancy appears between the two writers. The ground of 
cer^inty, which Hume admits in regard to propositions of 
this order, must be examined before we can appreciate his 
theory of probability as it affects the relations of cause and 

227. It has been shown* that Locke's opposition of 
mathematical to physical certainty, with his ascription to 
the former of instructive generality on the ground of its bare 
ideality — ^the ^ ideal ' in this regard being opposed to what is 
found in sensation — strikes at the very root of his system. 
It implies that thought can originate, and that what it origi- 
nates is in some sort real — ^nay, as being nothing else than 
the ^ primary qualities of matter,' is the source of all other 
reality. Here was an alien element which ^ empiricism ' could 
not assimilate without changing its character. Carrying 
such a conception along with it, it was already charged with 
an influence which must ultimately work its complete trans- 
mutation by compelling, not the iidmission of an ideal world 
of guess and aspiration alongside of the empirical, but the 
recognition of the empirical as itself ideal. The time for 

> See above, paragraphs 46 and 97. ' See abr ve, paragraphs 1 17 and 12& 


UuB transmntation, however, was not yet. Berkeley, in' 
over-hasty zeal for God, had missed that only true way of 
finding God in the world which lies in the discovery that 
the world is Thought. Having taken fright at the * mathe- 
matical Atheism,* which seemed to grow out of the current 
doctrines about primary qualities of matter, instead of 
applying Locke's own admissions to show that these were 
intelligible and merely intelligible, he fancied that he had 
won the battle for Theism by making out that they were 
merely feelings or sequences of feelings. From him Hume 
got the text for all he had to say against the metaphysical 
mathematicians ; but, for the reason that Hume applied it 
with no theological interest, its true import becomes more 
apparent with him than with Berkeley. 

228. His account of mathematical truths, as contained in His crHS* 
Part II. of the First Book of the * Treatise on Human Nature,' «»°J of 
cannot be fairly read except in connection with the chapters trine of 
in Part iv. on * Scepticism with regard to the Senses,' and on primary 
* the Modem Philosophy.' The latter chapter is expressly a ^ **' 
polemic against Locke's doctrine of primary qualities, and its 

drift is to reverse the relations which Locke had asserted 
between them and sensations, making the primary qualities 
depend on sensations, instead of sensations on the primary 
qualities. Li Locke himself we have found that two incon- 
sistent views on the subject perpetually cross each other.^ 
According to one, momentary sensation is the sole conveyance 
to us of reality ; according to the other, the real is constituted 
by qualities of bodies which not only * are in them whether 
we perceive them or not,' but which only complex ideas of 
relation can represent. The unconscious device which covered 
this inconsistency lay, we found,* in the conversion of the 
mere feeling of touch into the touch of a body^ and thus into 
an experience of solidity. By this conversion, since solidity 
according to Locke's account carries with it all the primary 
qualities, these too become data of sensation, while yet, by 
the retention of the opposition between them and ideas, the 
advantage is gained of apparently avoiding that identification 
of what is real with simple feeling, which science and common 
sense alike repel. 

229. Hume makes a show of getting rid of this see-saw. It will noi 

■ See above, paragraph 99 and foUowing. ' See above, paragraph lOU 


do to ' Instead of assuming at onoe the reality of sensation on the 
JPJI^ ^ strength of its relation to the primary qualities and the reality 
our feel- of these On the strength of their being given in tactual experi- 
ing, when enco, he pronounces sensations alone the real, to which the 
ing^can^ ' primary qualities must be reduced, if they are not to disappear 
pv«ide« altogeiher. * If colours, sounds, tastes, and smells be merely 
^' perceptions, nothing we can conceive is possessed of a real, 
continued, and independent existence ' (513). That they are 
perceptions is of course undoubted. The question is, whether 
there is a real something beside and beyond them, con* 
trast with which is implied in speaking of them as ' merely 
perceptions.^ The supposed qualities of such a real are 
^ motion, extension, and solidity ' (Ibid.)- To modes of these 
the other primary qualities enumerated by Locke are redu- 
cible ; and of these again motion and extension, according 
to Locke's account no less than Hume's own, presuppose 
solidity. What then do we assert of the real, in contrast 
with which we talk of perception, as mere perception, when 
we say that it is solid P * In order to form an idea of solidity 
we must conceive two bodies pressing on each other mthout 

any penetration Now, what idea do we form 

of these bodies P To say that we conceive them 

as solid is to run on ad infinitum. To affirm that we paint 
them out to ourselves as extended, either resolves them all 
into a false idea or returns in a circle ; extension must neces* 
sarily be conceived either as coloured, which is a false idea,* 
or as solid, which brings us back to the first question.' Of 
solidity, then, the ultimate determination of the supposed 
real, there is * no idea to be formed * apart from those per- 
ceptions to which, as independent of our senses, it is opposed. 
'After exclusion of colours, sounds, heat and cold from the 
rank of external existences, there remains nothing which can 
afford us a just and consistent idea of body.' 
Locke's 230. Our examination of Locke has shown us how it is 

*body/^ that his interpretation of ideas by reference to body is fairly 
* Bolidity/ open to this attack. It is so because, in thus interpreting 
nouch * them, he did not know what he was really about. He thought 
fairly ex- he was explaining ideas of sense according to the only method 
P^^ of explanation which he recognises — the method of resolving 

> * A false idea,* that is, according to a secondary (quality, not resembling the 
the doctrine that extension is a primary quality as it is in the thing, 
quality, while colour is only an idea of 


eomplez into simple ideas, and of ^ sending a man to his 
senses' for a knowledge of the simple. In feet, however, 
when he explained ideas of sense as derived from the qualities 
of body, he was explaining simple ideas by reference to that 
which, according to his own showing, is a complex idea. To 
say that, as Locke understood the derivation in question, the 
primary qualities are an Satiov yeusaetDt to the ideas of secon- 
dary qualities, but not an amov yvdaetas — that without our 
having ideas of them they cause those ideas of sense from 
which afterwards our ideas of the primary qualities are formed 
— is to suppose an order of reality other than the order of our 
sensitive experience, and thus to contradict Locke's funda- 
mental doctrine that the genesis of ideas is to be found by 
observing their succession in ^ our own breasts.' It is not 
thus that Locke himself escapes the difficulty. As we have 
seen, he supposes om' ideas of sense to be from the beginning 
ideas of the qualities of bodies, and virtually justifies the suppo- 
sition by sending the reader to his sense of touch for that idea 
of solidity in which, as he defines it, all the primary qualities 
are involved. That the sense in question does not really yield 
the idea is what Hume points out when he says that, ^though 
bodien are felt by means of their solidity, yet the feeling is 
quite a different thing from the solidity, nor have they the 
least resemblance to each other.' In other words, having 
come to suppose that there are solid bodies, we explain our 
feeling as due to their solidity; but we may not at once 
interpret feeling as the result of solidity, and treat solidity 
as itself a feeling. It was by allowing himself so to treat it 
that Locke disguised frx>m himself the objection to his inter- 
pretation of feeling. Hume tears off the disguise, and in 
effect gives him the choice of being convicted either of 
reasoning in a circle or of explaining the simple idea by 
reference to the complex. The solidity, which is to explain 
feeling, can itself only be explained by reference to body. If 
body is only a complex of ideas of sense, in referring tactual 
feeling to it we are explaining a simple idea by reference to 
a compound one. If it is not, how is it to be defined except 
in the ' circular ' way, which Locke in fact adopts when he 
makes body a ^ texture of solid parts ' and solidity a relation 
of bodies?* 

■ See above, paragmph 101. 



of Locke's 


281. This ^vicious circle' was nothing of which Locke 
need have been ashamed, if only he had understood and 
avowed its necessity. Body is to solidity and to the primary 
qualities in general simply as a snbstiuice to the relations 
that determine it; and the * circle' in question merely repre- 
sents the logical impossibility of defining a substance except 
by relations, and of defining these relations without presup- 
posing a substance. It was only Locke's confusion of the 
order of logical correlation with the sequence of feelings in 
time, that laid him open to the charge of making body and 
the ideas of primary qualities, and again the latter ideas and 
those of secondary qualities, at once precede and follow each 
other. To avoid this confusion by recognising the logical 
order — the order of intellectual * fictions' — as that apart 
from which the sequence of feelings would be no order of 
knowable reality at all, would be of course impossible for one 
who took Locke's antithesis of thought and fact for granted. 
The time for that was not yet. A way of escape had first 
to be sought in a more strict adherence to Locke's identifi- 
cation of the sequence of feelings with the order of reality. 
Hence Hume's attempt, reversing Locke's derivation of 
ideas of sense from primary qualities of body, to derive what 
with Locke had been primary qualities, as compound im- 
pressions of sense, from simple impressions and to reduce body 
itself to a name not for any ^ just and consistent idea,' but 
for a ' propensity to feign,' the gradual product of custom and 
imagination. The question by which the value of such deri- 
vation and reduction is to be tried is our old one, whether it 
is not a tacit conversion of the supposed original impressions 
into qualities of body that alone makes them seem to yield 
the result required of them. If the Fourth Book of the 
^ Treatise on Human Nature,' with its elimination of the 
idea of body, had come before the second, would not the 
plausibility of the account of mathematical ideas contained 
in the latter have disappeared ? And conversely, if these 
ideas had been reduced to that which upon elimination of 
the idea of body they properly become, would not that * pro- 
pensity to feign,' which is to take the place of the excluded 
idea, be itself unaccountable 9 

232. ' After exclusion of colours, sounds, heat and cold, 
from the rank of external existences, there remains nothing 
which can afford us a just and consistent idea of body.' 


Now^ no one can ^exclude them from the rank of external What 
exifltences * more decisively than Hume. They are impres- ^^^ 
gions, and ^ all impressions are internal and perishing ex- 
istences, and appear as such.' Nor does he shirk the conse- 
quence, that we have no 'just and consistent idea of body.' 
It is true that we cannot avoid a * belief in its existence '— 
a belief which according to Hume consists in the supposition 
of * a continued existence of objects when they no longer 
appear to the senses, and of their existence as distinct from 
the mind and perceptions ; ' in other words, as ' external to 
and independent of us.' This belief, however, as he shows, 
is not given by the senses. That we shoidd feel the existence 
of an object to be continued when we no longer feel it, is a 
contradiction in terms ; nor is it less so, that we should feel 
it to be distinct from the feeling. We cannot, then, have an 
impression of body; and, since we cannot have an idea which 
does not correspond to an impression or collection of impres- 
sions, it follows that we can have no idea of it. How the ' belief 
in its existence ' is accounted for by Hume in the absence of 
any idea of it, is a question to be considered later.^ Our 
present concern is to know whether the idea of extension 
can hold its ground when the idea of body is excluded. Can Space 

238. * The first notion of space and extension,' he says, b^^Iv? 
'is derived solely from the senses of sight and feeling: nor Hume de- 
ls there anything but what is coloured or tangible that has "^^?J ^ 
parts disposed after such a manner as to convey the idea.' sight and 
Now, there may be a meaning of * derivation,' according to ^^^^' 
which no one would care to dispute the first clause of this 
sentence. Those who hold that really ^ i.e. for a conadousness 
to which the distmctum between real and uwreaZ is possible^ 
there is no feeling except such as is determined by 
thought, are yet far from holding that the determination is 
arbitrary ; that any and every feeling is potentially any and 
every conception. Of the feelings to which the visual and 
tactual nerves are organic, as they would be for a merely feel- 
ing consciousness, nothing, they hold, can be said ; in that 
sense they are an atrupop; but for the thinking conscious- 
ness, or (which is the same) as they really are, these feelings 
do, while those to which other nerves are organic do not, 
form the specific possibility of the conception of space, Ac- 

* See below, paragraph 303, and foil. 
VOL. I. O 


cording to this meaning of the words, all mnst admit that 
* the first notion of space and extension is derived from the 
senses of sight and feeling;' though it. does not foUow that 
a repeated or continued activity of either sense is necessary 
to the continued presence of the notion. With Hnme, how- 
ever, the derivation spoken of must mean that the notion of 
space is, to begin with, simply a visual or tactual feeling, 
and that such it remains, though with indefinite abatement 
and revival in the liveliness of the feeling, according to the 
amount of which it is called * impression * or * idea.' If we 
supposed him to mean, not that the notion of space was 
either a visual or tactual feeling indifferently, but that it was 
Sjgnifi- a compound result of both,' we should merely have to meet a 
htm of^ further difficulty as to the possibility of such composition of 
such deri- feelings when tiieir inward synthesis in a soul, and the out- 
Tauon. ^ard in a body, have been alike excluded. In the next clause 
of the sentence, however, we find that for visual and tactual 
feelings there are quietly substituted * coloured and tangible 
objects, having parts so disposed as to convey the idea of 
extension.' It is in the light of this latter clause that the 
uncritical reader interprets the former. He reads back the 
plausibility of the one into the other, and, having done so, 
finds the whole plausible. Now this plausibility of the latter 
clause arises from its implying a three-fold distinction — a 
distinction of colour or tangibility on the one side from tho 
disposition of the parts on the other; a distinction of the 
colour, tangibility and disposition of parts alike from an 
object to which they belong ; and a distinction of this object 
from the idea that it conveys. In other words, it supposes 
a negative answer to the three following questions : — Is the 
idea of extension the same as that of colour or tangibility? 
Is it possible without reference to something other than a 
possible impression? Is the idea of extension itself ex- 
tended? Yet to the two latter questions, according to 
Hume's express statements, the answer must be affirmative ; 
nor can he avoid the affirmative answer to the first, to which 
It means, he would properly be brought, except by equivocation, 
ij^ff^ct, 284. The pieces justijlcatives for this assertion are not 

and^i^e' f^r to seek. Some of them have been adduced already. The 
are the idea of space, like every other idea, must be a * copy of an 


* It is Qot really in this sense that Hume is a ' compound' one, as will ap- 
the impression of space according to pear below. 

SPACE A perception: 196 

impression.'' To speak of a feeling in its fainter stage as an 
' image ' of what it was in its livelier stage may, indeed, seem 
a curious nse of terms; but in this sense onlj, according to 
Hume's strict doctrine, can the idea of space be spoken of 
as an 'image' of anything at all. The impression from 
which it is derived, i.e, the feeling at its liveliest^ cannot 
properly be so spoken of, for ' no impression is presented by 
the senses as the image of anything distinct^ or external, or 
independent.' ' If no impression is so presented, neither can 
any idea^ which copies the impression, be so. It can involve no 
reference to anything which does not come and go with the 
impression. Accordingly no distinction is possible between 
space on the one hand, and either the impression or idea of 
it on the other. All impressions and ideas that can be said andthst 
to be of extension must be themselves extended ; and con- may'i^ 
Tersely, as Hume puts it, * all the qualities of extension are extended. 
qualities of a perception.' It should follow that space is 
either a colour or feeling of touch. In the terms which 
Hume himself uses with reference to ' substance,' ' if it be 
perceived by the eyes, it must be colour ; if by the ears, a 
sound; and so on, of the other senses.' As he expressly 
tells us that it is ' perceived by the eyes,' the conclusion is 

235. Hume does not attempt to reject the conclusion di- The parts 
rectly. He had too much eye to the appearance of con- °p/p^ 
sistency for that. But, in professing to admit it, he wholly of a per- 
alters its significance. The passage in question must be ^^P^*^'^- 
quoted at length. * The table, which just now appears to 
me, is only a perception, and all its qualities are qualities of a 
perception. Now, the most obvious of all its qualities is 
extension. The perception consists of parts. These parts 
are so situated as to afford us the notion of distance and 
contiguity, of length, breadth, and thickness. The termina- 
tion of i^ese three dimensions is what we call figure. The 
figure is moveable, separable, and divisible. Mobility and 
separability are the distinguishing properties of extended 
objects. And, to cut short all disputes, the very idea of 
extension is copied from nothing but an impression, and con- 
sequently must perfectly agree to it. To say the idea of ex- 
tension agrees to anything is to say it is extended.* Thus 
' there are impressions and ideas that are really extended.'* 

» P. 840. • P. 479. • p. 628. 

o 2 



236. In order to a proper appreciation of this passage it is 
essential to bear in mind that Hume, so &r as the nsages of 
language would allow him, ignores all such differences in 
modes of consciousness as the Germans indicate bj the dis- 
tinction between * Empfindung ' and * Vorstellung,* and by 
that between * Anschauung ' and ^ Begriff ; ' or, more properly. 
Yet the that he expressly merges them in a mode of consciousness 
P*^ ^^ for which, according to the most consistent account that can 
oo-cxjftent be gathered from him, the most natural fcerm would be 
Doteoceee- * feeling.** It is true that Hume himself, admitting a dis- 
tinction in the degree of vivacity with which this conscious- 
ness is at different times presented, inclines to restrict the 
term ' feeling ' to its more vivacious stage, aud to use ' per- 
ception ' as the more general term, applicable whatever the 
degree of vivacity may be.* We must not allow him, how- 
ever, in using this term to gain the advantage of a meaning 
which popular theory does, but his does not^ attach to it. 
* Perception * vrith him covers * idea * as well as * impression ; ' 
but nothing can be said of idea that cannot be said of impres- 
sion, save that it is less lively, nor of impression that cannot 
be said of idea, save that it is more so. It is this explicit 
reduction of all consciousness virtually, if not in name, to 
feeling that brings to the surface the difficulties latent in 
Locke's ' idealism.' These we have already traced at large ; 
but they may be summed up in the question, How can feelings, 
as * particular in time ' or (which is the same) in ' perpetual 
flux,' constitute or represent a world of permanent rdations ?• 
The difficulty becomes more obvious, though not more real, 
when the relations in question are not merely themselves 
permanent, like those between natural phenomena, but are 
' relations between permanent parts,' like those of space. It 
is for this reason that its doctrine about geometry has always 
been found the most easily assailable point of the * sensa- 
tional ' philosophy. Locke distinguishes the ideas of space 
and of duration as got, the one * from the permanent parts of 
space,' the other * from the fleeting and perpetually perishing 
parts of succession.'* He afterwards prefers the term * expan- 

* As implying no distinction from, or ceive.' F. 371. 

reference to, a thing causing and a sub- * When I shut mj eyes and think of 

ject experiencing it. See above, para- my chamber, the ideas I form are exact 

graphs 196 and 208, and the passages representations of the impressions I 

there referred to. felt: P. 812. 

■ * To hate, to love, to think, to feel, » See above, paragraphs 172 & 176. 

to see; all this is nothing but to per* * Essay n. chap. xiv. sec. 1. 


Am ' to space, as the opposite of dnration, because it brings 
out more clearly the distinction of a relation between perma- 
nent parts from that between ' fleeting successive parts which 
never exist together.* How, then, can a consciousness con- 
sisting simply of ^ fleeting successive parts ' either be or 
represent that of which the differentia is that its parts are 
permanent and co-exist 9 

237. If this crux had been fairly faced by Hume, he must 
have seen that the only way in which he could consistently 
deal with it was by radically altering, with whatever conse- 
quence to the sciences, Locke's account of space. As it was, 
he did not face it, but— whether intentionally or only in effect 

— disguised it by availing himself of the received usages of Hume can- 
lang^uage, which roughly represent a theory the exact oppo- g^^^^* 
site of his own, to cover the incompatibility between the * percept- 
established view of the nature of space, and his own reduction ^ °t^^^^*** 
of it to feeling. A very little examination of the passage, false t«> 
quoted at large above, will show that while in it a profession ^^^j^^jof 
is made of identifying extension and a certain sort of per- perception; 
ception with each other, its effect is not really to reduce ex- 
tension to such a perception as Hume elsewhere explains all 
perceptions to be, but to transfer the recognised properties of 
extension which with such reduction would disappear, to some- 
thing which for the time he chooses to reckon a perception, 
but which he can only so reckon at the cost of contradicting 
his whole method of dealing with the ideas of Gk)d, the soul, 
and the world. The passage, in fact, is merely one sample 
of the continued shuffle by which Hume on the one hand 
ascribes to feeling that intelligible content which it only de- 
rives from relation to objects of thought, and on the other 
disposes of these objects because they are not feelings. 

238. ^ The table, which just now appears to me, is only a as appean 
perception, and all its qualities are qualities of a perception. If^enQ^^'^ 
Now, the most obvious of all its qualities is extension. The for * per- 
perception consists of parts. These parts are so situated as l^^^^[ ** 
to afford us the notion of distance and contiguity, of length, sages in 
breadth, and thickness,* &c., &c. K, now, throughout this q^^e^tion. 
statement (as according to Hume's doctrine we are entitled 

to do) we write /eeZingr for * perception * and * notion,* it will 
appear that this table is a feeling, which has another feeling, 
called extension, as one of its qualities ; and that this latter 
feeling consists of parts. These, in turn, must be themselves 



To make 
ftezise of 
them, we 
must take 
to mean 

feelings, since the parts of which a {>erception consists mnst be 
themselves perceived, and, being perceived, must, according to 
Hume, be themselves perceptions which s feelings. These 
feelings, again, afford ns other feelings of certain relations 
— distance and contiguity, &c. — ^feelings which, as Hume's 
doctrine allows of no distinction between the feeling and that 
of which it is the feeling, must be themselves relations. Thus 
it would seem that a feeling may have another feeling as one 
of its qualities ; that the feeling, which is thus a quality, has 
other feelings as its co-existent parts ; and that the feelings 
which are parts ^ afford us ' other feelings which are rela- 
tions. Is that sense or nonsense? 

239. To this a follower of Hume, if he could be brought 
to admit the legitimacy of depriving his master of the benefit 
of synonyms, might probably reply, that the apparent non- 
sense only arises from our being unaccustomed to such use 
of the term ' feeling ;' tiiat the table is a ^ bundle of feeUngs,' 
actual and possible, of which the actual one of sight suggests 
a lively expectation, easily confused with the presence, of the 
others belonging to the other senses ; tiiat any one of these 
may be considered a quality of the total impression formed 
by all ; that the feeling thus considered, if it happens to be 
visual, may not improperly be said to consist of other feelings, 
as a whole consists of parts, since it is the result of impres- 
sions on different parts of tiie retina, and from a different 
point of view even itself to be the relation between the parts, 
just as naturally as a mutual feeling of friendship may be said 
either to consist of the loves of the two parties to the friend- 
ship, or to constitute the relation between them. Such 
language represents those modem adaptations of Hume, which 
retain Ms identification of the real with the felt but ignore 
his restrictions on the felt. Undoubtedly, if Hume allowed 
us to drop the distinction between feeling as it might be for 
a merely feeling consciousness, and feeling as it is for a 
thinking consciousness, the objection to his speaking of feel- 
ing in those terms, in which it must be spoken of if extension 
is to be a feeling, would disappear; but so, likewise, would 
the objection to speaking of thought as constitutive of reality. 
To appreciate his view we must take feeling not as we really 
know it — for we cannot know it except under those conditions 
of self-consciousness, the logical categories, which in his 
attempt to get at feeling, pure and simple, Hume is consistent 


eaongh to exdade — ^but as it becomes upon exclusion of all 
determination by objects which Hume reckons fictitious. 
What it would thus become positively we of course cannot 
say, for of the unknowable nothing can be said ; but we can 
decide negatively what it cannot be. Can that in any case be 
said of it, which must be said of it if a feeling may be ex- 
tended, and if extension is a feeling 9 Can it be such a quality 
of an object, so consisting of parts, and such a relation, as we 
have found that Hume takes it to be in his account of the 
perception of this table 9 

240. After having taken leave throughout the earlier which it 
part of the * Treatise on Human Nature * to speak in the ^n'U 
ordinary way of objects and their qualities — and otherwise the result 
of course he could not have spoken at all— in the fourth ?fi^^; 
book he seems for the first time to become aware that his 
doctrine did not authorise such language. To perceive 
qualities of an object is to be conscious of relation between 
a subject and object, of which neither perishes with the 
moment of perception. Such consciousness is self-con- 
sciousness, and cannot be reduced to any natural observ 
able event, since it is consciousness of that of which we 
cannot say *Lo, here,* or *Lo, there/ * it is now but was not 
then,' or *it was then but is not now.' It is therefore 
something which the spirit of the Lockeian philosophy 
cannot assimilate, and which Hume, as the most consistent 
exponent of that spirit, most consistently tried to get rid o£ 
The subject as self, the object as body, he professes to reduce 
to figures of speech, to be accounted for as the result of cer- 
tain ^ propensities to feign : ' nor will he allow that any im- 
pression or idea (and impressions and ideas with him, be 
it remembered, exhaust our consciousness) carries with it 
a reference to an object other than itself, any more than do 
pleasure or pain to which ^ in their nature ' all perceptions 
correspond.' He cannot, indeed, avoid speaking of the con* 
sciousness thus reduced to the level of simple pain and 
pleasure, as being that which in fact it can only be when 
determined by relation to a self-conscious subject, i.e. as 

■ ' EreTj impression, external and in- * All sensations are felt bT the mind 

temal, passions, affections, sensations, inch as they really aie ; and, -vhen we 

pains, and pleasures, are originally on doubt whether they present tiwrnselves 

the same footing; and, whatever other as distinct objects or as mere impres- 

difSsrences we may observe among- them, sions, the difficulty is not concerning 

appear, aU of them, in their true colours, their nature, but concerning their rela- 

as impressions or perceptions.' P. 480. cions and situation.' P. 480. 


itself an object; but lie is so fiir &ithM in bis attempt to 
ayoid sncb determination, that be does not reckon tbe object 
more permanent than the impression. It, too, is a * perish- 
ing existence.* As the impression disappears with a ' turn 
of the eye in its socket,' so does the object, which really is 
the impression, and cannot appear other than it is any more 
than a feeling can be felt to be what it is not* 
If felt 241. Such being the only possible object, how can 

mowthM ?^^^*^^ ^^ i* ^ perceived? We cannot here find refnge 
feeling, ui any such propensity to feign as that which, according to 
how can it Hmne, leads ns to * endow objects with a continued exist- 
qualitiM? ence, distinct from our perceptions.' If such propensities 
can give rise to impressions at all, it can only be to impres- 
sions of reflection, and it cannot be in virtue of them that 
extension, an impression of sensation, is given as a quality 
of an object. Now if there is any meaning in the phrase 
' qualities of an object,' it implies that the qualities co-exist 
with each other and the object. Feelings, then, which are felt 
as qualities of another feeling must co-exist with, i.e. (accord- 
ing to Hume) be felt at the same time as, it and each other. 
Thus, if an impression of sight be the supposed object, no 
feeling that occurs after this impression has disappeared can 
be a quality of it. Accordingly, when Hxmie speaks of ex- 
tension being seen as one of the qualities of this table, he is 
only entitled to mean that it is one among several feelings, 
experienced at one and the same time, which together con- 
stitute the table. Whatever is not so experienced, whether 
extension or anything else, can be no quality of that * per- 
ception.' How much of the perception, then, will survive? 
Can any feelings, strictly speaking, be cotemporaneous P 
Those received through different senses, as Hxmie is careful 
to show, may be; e.g. the smell, taste, and colour of a 
fruit.* In regard to them, therefore, we may waive the 
difficulty, How can feelings successive to each other be yet 
co-existent qualities 9 but only to find ourselves in another 
as to what the object may be of which the cotemporaneous 
feelings are qualities. It cannot, according to Hume, be 

> See above, pangiaph 208, vith Nor are they only co-exutent in general, 

the paasagies there cited. but also ootemporazY in their appear- 

* 'The taste and smell of anjfnut are ance in the mind.' P. 621. (Ccmtrast 

inseparable from its other qualities of p. 370, where existence and appeamnne 

oolonr and tangibility, and .... are identified.) 
'tis certain thoy are always co-existent. 


other tlian one or all of the cotemporaneons feelings. Is, 
then, the taste of an apple a quality of its colour or of its 
smell, or of colour, smell, and taste put together 9 It vnH 
not help us to speak of the several feelings as qualities of 
the * total impression;' for the * total impression* either 
merely means the several feelings put together, or else 
covertly implies just that reference to an object other than 
these, which Hume expressly excludes. 

242. In fact, however, when he speaks of the feeling, which The thing 
is called extension, as a quality of the feeling, which is called ^^IJ^*^® 
sight, of the table, he has not even the excuse that he might before the 
have had if the feelings in question, being of different senses, g«*}ity 
might be cotemporary. « According to him they are feelings of be. 

the same sense. The extension of the table he took to be a 
datum of sight just as properly as its colour ; yet he cannot 
call it the same as colour, but only ^ a quality of the coloured 
object.' As the * coloured object,' however, apart from * pro- 
pensities to feign,' can, according to him, be no other than 
the feeling of colour, his doctrine can only mean that, colour 
and extension being feelings of the same sense, the latter is 
a quality of the former. Is this any more possible than 
that red should be a quality of blue, or a sour taste of a 
bitter one? Must not the two feelings be successive, how- 
ever closely successive, so that the one which is object will 
have disappeared before the other, which is to be its quality, 
will have occurred ? * 

243. If we look to the detailed account which Hume gives Hume 
of the relation between extension and colour, we find that he ^^^T 
avoids the appearance of making one feeling a quality of patting 
another, by in fact substituting for colour a superficies of * coloured 
coloured points, in which it is very easy to find extension as ^r^coiwir. 
a quality because it already is extension as an object. To 

speak of extension, though a feeling, as made up of parts is 
just as legitimate or illegitimate as to speak of the feeling 
of colour being made up of coloured points. The legitimacy 
of this once admitted, there remains, indeed, a logical question 
as to how it is that a quality should be spoken of in terms 
that seem proper to a substance — as is done when it is said 

' It shonld be needlew to point ont tion as to its relation to such feelings 

that by taking extension to be a quality will be simply a repetition of that, put 

cyf 'tangibility' or muscular effort we in the text, as to its relation to the 

merely change the difficulty. Theques- feeling of colour. 


to cousist of parts — and jet, again, should be pronounced a 
relation of these parts ; but to one who professed to mei^e 
all logical distinctions in the indifference of simple feeling, 
such a question could have no recognised meaning. It is, 
then, upon the question whether, according to Hume's doc- 
trine of perception, the perception of an object made up of 
coloured points may be used interchangeablj with the per- 
ception of colour, that the consistency of his doctrine of 
extension must finally be tried. 

244. The detailed account is to the following effect: — 
* Upon opening my eyes and turning them to the surround- 
ing objects, I perceive many visible bodies ; and upon shut- 
ting them again and considering the* distance betwixt these 
bodies, I acquire the idea of extension.' From what im- 
pression, Hume proceeds to ask, is this idea derived 9 * In- 
ternal impressions ' being excluded, * there remain nothing 
but the senses which can convey to us this original impres- 
sion.' . . . ^ The table before me is alone sufficient by its 
view to give me the idea of extension. This idea, then, is 
borrowed from and represents some impression which this 
moment appears to the senses. But my senses convey to me 
only the impressions of coloured points, disposed in a certain 
manner. . . . We may conclude that the idea of extension 
is nothing but a copy of these coloured points and of the 
manner of their appearance.' * 
Cana <di8- 245. K the first sentence of the above had been found by 
^r^^^ Hume in an author whom he was criticising, he would 
pointfl 'be Scarcely have been slow to pronounce it tautological. As it 
an impMB- stands, it simply tells us that having seen things extended we 
consider their extension, and upon considering it acquire an 
idea of it. It is a fair sample enough of those ^ natural his* 
tories ' of the soul in vogue among us, which by the help of a 
varied nomenclature seem able to explain a supposed later 
state of consciousness as the result of a supposed earlier one, 
because the terms in which the earlier is described in effect 
assume the later. It may be said, however, that it is only by 
a misinterpretation of a carelessly written sentence that 
Hume can be represented as deriving the idea of extension 
from the consideration of distance ; that, as the sequel shows, 
he regarded the ' consideration' and the ' idea ' in question 

> Pp. 340 and 341. 


BB equiyalent) and derived from the same impression of 
sense. It is undoubtedly upon his account of this impres* 
sion that his doctrine of extension depends. It is described 
as ' an impression of coloured points disposed in a certain 
manner.' To it the idea of extension is related simply as a 
copy ; which, we have seen, properly means with Hume, as 
a feeling in a less lively stage is related to the same feeling 
in a more lively stage. It is itself, we must note, the imprea-^ 
sion of extension ; and it is an impression of sense, about 
which, accordingly, no further question can properly be raised. 
Hume, indeed, allows himself to speak as if it were included 
in a ^ perception of visible bodies ' other than itself; just as 
in the passage from the fourth book previously examined, he 
speaks as if die perception, called extension, were a quality of 
some other perception. This we must regard as an exercise 
of the privilege which he claims of ^ speaking with the vulgar 
while he thought with the learned ; ' since, according to him, 
' visible body,' in any other sense than that of the impression 
of coloured points, is properly a name for a * propensity to 
feign ' resulting from a process posterior to all impressions 
of sense. The question remains whether, in speaking of an 
impression as one of ^ coloured points disposed in a certain 
manner,' he is not introducing a * fiction of thought ' into 
the impression just as much as in calling it a ' perception of 

246. An impression, we know, can, according to Hume, The points 
never be of an object in the sense of involving a reference to JhemJefves 
anything other than itself. When one is said, then, to be impres- 
of coloured points, &c., this can only mean that itself t0, or "o°»» *»»d 
consists of, such points. Thus the question we have to notoo- 
answer is only a more definite form of the one previously «"*«"^ 
put, Can a feeling consist of parts? In answering it we 
must remember that the parts, here supposed to be coloured 
points, must, according to Hume's doctrine, be themselves 
impressions or they are nothing. Consistently with this he 
speaks of extension as ^ a compound impression, consisting 
of parts or lesser impressions, that are indivisible to the eye 
or feeling, and may be called impressions of atoms or cor- 
puscles, endowed with colour and solidity.' * Now, unless 
we suppose that a multitude of feelings of one and the same 

< P. 3i& 


sense can be present together, these * lesser impressions' 
must follow each other and precede the ' componnd impres- 
sion.' That is to say, none of the parts of which extension 
consists will be in existence at the same time, and all will 
have ceased to exist before extension itself comes into being. 
Can we, then, adopt the alternative supposition that a mnlti- 
tude of feelings of one and the same sense can be present 
together 9 In answering this question according to Hume's 
premisses we may not help ourselves by saying that in a case 
of vision there really are impressions on different parts of 
the retina. To say that it really is so, is to say that it is so 
for the thinking consciousness— for a consciousness that 
distinguishes between what it feels and what it knows. To 
a man, as simply seeing and while he sees, his sight is not 
an impression on the retina at all, much less a combination 
of impressions on dijSerent parts of the retina. It is so for 
him only as thinking on the organs of his sight ; or, if we 
like, as * seeing ' them in another, but * seeing ' them in a 
way determined by sundry suppositions (bodies, rays, and 
the like) which are not feelings, and therefore with Hume 
not possible ^ perceptions,' at all. But it is the impres- 
sion of sight, as it would be for one simply seeing and while 
he sees, undetermined by reference to anything other than 
itself, whether subject or object — an impression as it would 
be for a merely feeling consciousness or (in Hume's lan- 
guage) ^ on the same footing with pain and pleasure ' — that 
we have to do with when, from Hume's point of view, we 
ask whether a multitude of such impressions can be present 
at once, i.e. as one impression. 
A • com- 247. If this question had been brought home to Hume, 

poHnd im- }^q could Scarcely have avoided the admission that to answer 
excluded it affirmatively involved just as much of a contradiction as 
by-Hume'g that which he recognises between the * interrupted ' and 
time/° ° * continuous ' existence of objects ; * and just as in the latter 
case he gets over the contradiction by taking the inter- 
rupted existence, because the datum of sense, to be the 
reality, and the continued existence to be a belief resulting 
from ^propensities to feign,' so in the case before us he must 
have taken the multiplicity of successive impressions to be 
the reality, and their co-existence as related parts to be a 

> P. 483 and following, and p. 486. 


figare of speech, which he must account for as best he could. 
As it is, he so plays fast and loose with the meaning of ' im- 
pression ' as to hide the contradiction which is involved in 
the notion of a 'compound impression' if impression is in- 
terpreted as feeling — ^the contradiction, namely, that a single 
feeling should be felt to be manifold — ^and in consequence loses 
the chance of being brought to that truer interpretation of the 
compound impression, as the thought of an object under re- 
lations, which a more honest trial of its reduction to feeling 
might have shown to be necessary. To convict so skilful a 
writer of a contradiction in terms can never be an easy 
task. He does not in so many words tell us that all im- 
pressions of sight must be successive, but he does tell us 
that *the impressions of touch,* which, indifiFerently with 
those of sight, he holds to constitute the compound impres- 
sion of extension, ' change every moment upon us.' * And 
in the immediate sequel of the passage where he has made 
out extension to be a compound of co-existent impressions, 
he derives the idea of time 'from the succession of our 
perceptions of every hmd., ideas as weU as impressions, and 
impressions of reflection as well as of sensation.' The 
parts of time, he goes on to say, cannot be co-existent ; and, 
since 'time itself is nothing but different ideas and im- 
pressions succeeding each other,' these parts, we must con- 
clude, are those ' perceptions of every kind ' from which 
ihe idea of time is derived.* It is only, in fact, by availing 
himself of the distinction, which he yet expressly rejects, 
between the impression and its object, that he disguises the 
contradiction in terms of first pronouncing certain impres- 
sions, as parts of space, co-existent, and then pronouncing all 
impressions, as parts of time, successive. A statement that 
' as from the coexistence of visual, and also of tactual, per- 
ceptions we receive the idea of extension, so from the suc- 
cession of perceptions of every kind we form the idea of 
time,' would arouse the suspicion of the most casual reader; 
while Hume's version of the same, — ' as 'tis from the dispo- 
sition of visible and tangible objects we receive the idea of 
space, so from the succession of ideas and impressions we 
form the idea of time '^ — ^has the full ring of empirical 

> P. 61«. « Pp. 342, 343. • P. 342. 


The fact 248. This plausibility depends chiefly on our reading into 
coioxin Hume's doctrine a physical theory which, as implying a 
mix, not to distinction between feeling and its real but unfelt cause, is 
^^^^ strictly incompatible with it. Is it not an undoubted fact, 
the reader asks, that two colours may combine to produce a 
third different from both — that red and yellow, for instance, 
together produce orange? Is not this already an in- 
stance of a compound impression 9 Why may not a like com- 
position of unextended impressions of colour constitute an 
impression different from any one of the component impres- 
sions, viz. extended colour? A moment's consideration, 
however, will show that no one has a conscious sensation at 
once of red and yellow, and of orange as a compound of the 
two. The elements which combine to produce the colour 
called orange are not — as they ought tobeifitistobea 
case of compound impression in Hume's sense — ^feelings of 
the person who sees the orange colour, but certain known 
causes of feeling, confrised in language with the feelings, 
which separately they might produce, but which in fact they 
do not produce when they combine to give the sensation of 
orange ; and to such causes of feeling, which are not them- 
selyes feelings, Hume properly can have nothing to say. 
How Hum© 249. So fex we have been considering the composition uf 
pearance^ imprcssions generally, without special reference to extension* 
of identi- The Contradiction pointed out arises from the confusion 
Bpa^ with b^^een impressions as felt and impressions as thought of; 
eoiour» between feelings as they are in themselves, presented suc- 
cessively in time, and feelings as determined by relation to 
the thinking subject, which takes them out of the flux of time 
and converts them into members of a permanent whole. It 
is in this form that the confrision is most apt to elude us. 
When the conceived object is one of which the qualities can 
really be felt, e.g. colour, we readily forget that a felt quality 
is no longer simply a feeling. But the case is different when 
the object is one, like extension, which forces on us the 
question whether its qualities can be felt, or presented in 
feeling, at all. A compound of impressions of colour, to 
adopt Hume's phraseology, even if such composition were 
possible, would still be nothing else than an impression of 
colour. In more accurate language, the conception, which 
results from the action of thought upon feelings of colour, 
can only be a conception of colour. Is extension, then, the 


•nme as colour? To say that it was would imply that 
geometry was a science of colour ; and Hume, though ready 
enough to outrage * Metaphysics and School Divinity/ always 
stops reverently short of direct offence to the mathematical 
sciences. As has been said above, of the three main questions 
about the idea of extension which his doctrine raises — Is it 
itself extended? Is it possible without reference to some- 
tiiing other than a possible impression ? Is it the same as 
the idea of colour or tangibility? — ^the last is the only one 
which he can scarcely even profess to answer in the affirma- 
tive.' Even when he has gone so far as to speak of the parts and ac- 
of a perception, a sound instinct compels him, instead of ^^b- ^ 
identifying the perception directly with extension, to speak Btaraction 
of it as ' affording through the situation of its parts the ^^ *^^^' 
notion of extension.* In like manner, when he has asserted 
extension to be a compound of impressions, he avoids the 
proper consequence of the assertion by speaking of the com- 
ponent impressions as those, not of colour but, of coloured 
points, 'atoms or corpuscles endowed with colour and 
solidity ; ' and, again, does not call extension the compound 
of these simply, but the compound of them as ' disposed in a 
certain manner.' When the idea which is a copy of this 
impression has to be spoken of, the expression is varied 
again. It is an * idea of the coloured points and of the mem- 
ner of their appea/rance/ or of their * disposition.' The dispo- 
sition of the parts having been thus virtually distinguished 
from their colour, it is easy to suppose that, finding a 
likeness in the disposition of points under every unlikeness 
of their colour, ' we omit the peculiarities of colour, as far as 
possible, and found an abstract idea merely on that disposi- 
tion of points, or manner of appearance, in which they 
agree. Nay, even when the resemblance is carried beyond 
the objects of one sense, and the impressions of touch are 
found to be similar to iJiose of sight in the disposition of 
their parts, this does not hinder the abstract idea from 
representing both on account of their resemblance.' * 

260. If words have any meaning, the above must imply Id ao 
that the disposition of points is at least a different idea from ^°^°^' ^^ 
either colour or tangibility, however impossible it may be for that space 

is a rela- 

" Above, paragraph 283. Though, « Above, paragraph 236. ^^^ 

88 ire shall see, he does so in one pas- ' P. 341. 



118 to ezperienoe it without one or other of the latter. Nor 
can we suppose that this impression, other than colour, is one 
that first results from the composition of colours, even if we 
admit that such composition could yield a resiilt different 
from colour. According to Hume, the components of the 
compound impression are already impressions of coloured 
* points, atoms, or corpuscles,' and such points imply just that 
limitation by mutual externality, which is abeady the dispo- 
sition in question. Is this ' disposition,' then, an impression 
Son wlSh ^^ sensation P If so, * through which of the senses is it 
is not a received ? If it be perceived by the eyes it must be a colour,* 
P**»^i« Ac. &c. ; * but from colour, the impression, with which Hume 
would have identified it if he could, he yet finds himself obliged 
virtually to distinguish it. It is a relation, and not even 
one of those relations, such as resemblance, which in Hume's 
language, * depending on the nature of the impressions re- 
lated,'* may plausibly be reckoned to be themselves impressions. 
The 'disposition' of parts and their ' situation' he uses inter- 
changeably, and the situation of impressions he expressly 
opposes to their ' nature' ' — ^that nature in respect of which 
all impressions, call them what we like, are ' originally on 
the same footing' with pain and pleasure. Consistently 
with this he pronounces the * external position ' of objects — 
their position as bodies external to each other and to our 
body — ^to be no datum of sense, no impression or idea, at all.^ 
Our belief in it has to be accounted for as a complex result 
of * propensities to feign.' How, then, can there be an impres- 
sion of that which does not belong to the nature of any 
impression ? What difference is there between ' bodies ' and 
'corpuscles endowed with colour and solidity,' that the 
outwardness of the latter to each other — also called their 

* Abore, pansraph 208. nature, but oonoorning their relations 

* P. 872, * Philosophical relatioDs and situation/ 
may be diyided into two classes : into ^ P. 481. In there showing that 
such as depend entirely on the ideas the senses alone cannot oonTinoe us 
which we compare together; and such of the external existence of body, he 
as may be changed without any change remarks that ' sounds, tastes, and 
in the ideas. . . . The relations smells appear not to have any existence 
of contiguity and distance between in extension ; ' and (p. 483) * as far as 
two objects may be changed without the senses are judges, all perceptions 
any change in the objects themselTM are the same in the manner of their 
or their ittoas.* existence.' Therefore perceptions of 

' P. 480. ' When we doubt whether sight cannot have ' an existence in 

sensations present themselves aa dis- extension' any more than 'sounds, 

tinct objects or as mere impressions, tastes, and smells ; ' and if so, how can 

the difficulty is not concerning their 'existence in extension' be a perception? 


' distance * firom each other * — should be an impression, while 
it is admitted that the same relation between ^bodies' cannot 
be soP 

251. To have plainly admitted that it was not an impres- No logical 

sion mnst have compelled Hame either to discard the * ab- betw©M ^* 

stract idea ' with which geometry deals, or to admit the identifying 

possibility of ideas other than * fainter impressions/ It is a ^^^^j 

principle on which he insists with much emphasis and repe- admitting 

tition, tliat whatever * objects,' * impressions,' or * ideas * are *°/^i^ 

distinguishable are also separable.' Now if there is an fromau 

abstract idea of extension, it can scarcely be other than dis- >^P«»- 


tinguishable, and consequently (according to Hume's account 
of the relation of idea to impression) derived from a dis- 
tinguiBhable and therefore separable impression. It would 
seem then that Hume cannot escape conviction of one of two 
inconsistencies ; either that of supposing a separate impres- 
sion of extension, which yet is not of the nature of any 
assignable sensation ; or that of supposing an abstract idea 
of it in the absence of any such impression. We shall find 
fhat he does not directly face either horn of the dilemma, 
bat evades both of them. He admits that ' the ideas of space 
and time are no separate and distinct ideas, but merely those 
of the manner or order in which objects ' (sc. impressions) 
* exist.' • In the Fourth Book, where the equivalence of im- 
pression to feeling is more consistently carried out, the fact 
that what is commonly reckoned an impression is really a 
judgment about the ^ manner of existence,' as opposed to the 
' nature,' of impressions, is taken as sufficient proof that it is 
no impression at all ; and if not an impression, therefore not 
an idea.^ He thus involuntarily recognized the true di£fer- 
ence between feeling and thought, between the mere occur- 
rence of feelings and the presentation of that occurrence by 
the self-conscious subject to itself; and, if only he had 
known what he was about in the recognition, might have 
anticipated Kant's distinction between the matter and form 
of sensation. In the Second Book, however, he will neither 
say explicitly that space is an impression of colour or a com- 
pound of colours — that would be to extinguish geometry ; 
nor yet that it is impression of sense separate from that of 
colour — ^that would lay him open to the retort that he was 

' Above, paragraphs 235 and 244. ' P. 346. 

' P. 319, 326, 332, 335 518. * P. 480. 

YOL. I. P 


▼irtaally introdacing a sixth sense ; nor on the other hand 
^ill he boldly avow of it, as he afterwards does of body, 
that it is a fiction. He denies that it is a separate impress 
sion, so far as that is necessary for aroiding the challenge to 
specify the sense through which it is received ; he distin- 
guishes it from a mere impression of sight, when it is neces- 
sary to avoid its simple identification with colour. By 
speaking of it as ^ the manner in which objects exist ' — so 
long as he is not confronted with the declarations of the 
Fourth Book or with the question how, the objects being im- 
pressions, their order of existence can be at once that of 
succession in time and of co-existence in space — ^he gains the 
credit for it of being a datum of sights yet so far distinct 
from colour as to be a possible ^foundation for an abstract 
idea/ representative also of objects not coloured at all but 
tangible. At the same time, if pressed with the question 
how it could be an impression of sight and yet not inter- 
changeable with colour, he could put off the questioner by 
reminding him that he never made it a * separate or distinct 
impression, but one of the manner in which objects exist.' 
In his ac- 252. Disguisc it as he might, however, the admission that 
^e°id^ ag there was in some sense an abstract idea of space, which the 
abstract, existence of geometry required of him, really carried with it 
rettiTy in- ^^^ admissiou either of a distinct impression of the same, or 
trodacea of some transmuting process by which the idea may become 
hnween^'^ what the impression is not. His way of evading this conse- 
feeiing and queuce has been already noticed in our examination of his 
tion ^^ doctrine of * abstract ideas ' generally, though without special 
reference to extension.^ It consists in asserting figure and 
colour to be * reaUy,' or as an impression, ^ the same and in- 
distinguishable,' but different as ^ relations and resemblances ' 
of the impression ; in other words, different according to the 
* light in which the impression is considered ' or * the aspect 
in which it is viewed.' Of these * separate resemblances and 
relations,' however, are there idea^ or are there not? If 
there are not, they are according to Hume nothing of which 
we are conscious at all ; if there are, there must be distin- 
guishable, and therefore separable, impressions corresponding. 
To say then that figure and colour form one and the same 
indistinguishable impression, and yet that they constitute 

^ Above, paragraph 218. 

HOW IS ABSTRACTION V^^>sr^f?>^l^^^*^'^ ^^^ 

* different resemblances and relations,' without such explana- 
tion as Hume cannot consistently give, is in fact a contradic- 
tion in terms. The true explanation is that the * impression ' 
has a different meaning, when figure and colour are said to 
be inseparable in the impression, from that which it has 
when spoken of as a subject of different resemblances and 
relations. In the former sense it is the feeling pure and 
simple — one as presented singly in time, after another and 
before a third. In this sense it is doubtless insusceptible of 
distinction into qualities of figure and colour, because (for 
reasons already stated) it can have no qualities at all. But 
the ^ simplicity in which many different resemblances and 
relations may be contained ' is quite other than this single*- 
ness. It is the unity of an object thought of under manifold 
relations — a unity of which Hume, reducing all conscious- 
ness to ^ impression ' and impression to feeling, has no con- 
sistent account to give. Failing such an account, the unity 
of the intelligible object, and the singleness of the feeling in 
time, are simply confused with each other. It is only an 
object as thought of, not a feeling as felt, that can properly 
be said to have qualities at all ; while it is only because it is 
still regarded as a feeling that qualities of it, which cannot 
be referred to separate impressions, are pronounced the same 
and indistinguishable. K the idea of space is other than a 
feeling grown fainter, the sole reason for regarding it as 
originally an impression of colour disappears ; if it is such a 
feeling, it cannot contain such ^ different resemblances and 
relations' as render it representative of objects not only 
coloured in every possible way, but not coloured at all. 

253. It is thus by playing fast and loose with the differ- yet avoids 
ence between feeling and conception that Hume is able, ftppe?»n«« 
when the character of extension as an mtelligible relation by treating 
is urged, to reply that it is the same with the feeling of 'consider- 
colour ; and on the other hand, when asked how there then the rela- 
can be an abstract idea of it, to reply that this does not tiona of a 
mean a separate idea, but coloured objects considered under ^ ^f j^ °^ 
a certain relation, viz. under that which consists in the were itself 
disposition of their parts. The most effective way of meet- J^/*^^' 
ing him on his own ground is to ask him how it is, since 
' consideration ' can only mean a succession of ideas, and 
ideas are fainter impressions, that extension, being one and 
the same impression with colour, can by any * consideration * 

? 2 


become so different from it as to constitute a resemblance to 
objects that are not coloured at all. The true explanation, 
according to his own terminology, would be that the re- 
semblance between the white globe and all other globes, 
being a resemblance not of impressions but of such relations 
between impressions as do not ^ depend on the nature of the 
impressions 'related, is unaffected by the presence or absence 
of colour or any other sensation. Of such relations, how- 
ever, there can properly, if ideas are fEunter impressions, be 
no ideas at all. In regard to those of cause and identity 
Hume virtually admits this ; but the ^ propensities to feign,' 
by which in the case of these latter relations he tries to 
account ibr the appearance of theie being ideas of them, 
cannot plausibly be applied to relations in space and time, 
of which, as we shall see, ideas must be assumed in order to 
account for the * fictions ' of body and necessary connexion. 
Since then they cannot be derived from any separate im- 
pression without the introduction in effect of a sixth sense, 
and since all constitutive action of thought as distinct 
from feeling is denied by Hume, the only way to save ap- 
pearances is to treat the order in which a multitude of 
impressions present themselves as the same with each im- 
pression, even though immediately afterwards it may have to 
be confessed, that it is so independent of the nature of any or 
all of the impressions as to be the foundation of an abstract 
idea, which is representative of other impressions having 
nothing whatever in common with them but the order of 
appearance. This once allowed — ^an abstract idea having^ 
been somehow arrived at which is not really the copy of 
any impression — it is easy to argue back from the abstract 
idea to an impression, and because there is an idea of the 
composition of points to substitute a ' composition of coloured 
points ' for colour as the original impression. From such 
impression, being already extension, ^e idea of extension 
can undoubtedly be abstracted. 
Summary 254. We now know what becomes of * extended matter ' 
dicSoM in when the doctrine, which has only to be stated to find accept- 
hisaccoaot ance, that we cannot * look for anything anywhere but in our 
do^^° ideas ' — ^in other words that for us there is no world but 
consciousness — is fairly carried out. Ite position must 
become more and more equivocal, as the assumption, that 
consciousness reveals to us an alien matter, has in one after 


another of its details to be rejected, until a principle of 
sjnthesis within consciousness is found to explain it. In 
default of this, the feeling consciousness has to be made to 
take its place as best it may ; which means that what is 
said of it as feeling has to be unsaid of it as extended, and 
vice versd. As feeling, it carries no reference to anything 
other than itself, to an object of which it is a quality 5 as 
extended, it is a qualified object. As extended again, its 
qualities are relations of coexistent parts ; as feelingy it is 
an unlimited succession, and therefore, not being a possible 
whole, can have no parts at all. Finally bs feeling, it must 
in each moment of existence either be ^ on the same foot- 
ing ' with pain and pleasure or else — a distinction^between 
impressions of sensation and reflection being unwarrantably 
admitted — be a colour, a taste, a sound, a smell, or ^ tangi- 
bility;' as extended, it is an ^ order of appearance' or ^dis- 
position of corpuscles,' which, being predicable indifferently 
at any rate of two of these sensations, can no more be the 
same with either than either can be the same with the 
other. It is not the fault of Hume but his merit that, in 
undertaking to maintain more strictly than others the 
identification of extension with feeling, he brought its im- 
possibility more clearly into view. The pity is that having 
carried his speculative enterprise so far before he was thirty, 
he allowed literary vanity to interfere with its consist- 
ent pursuit^ caring only to think out the philosophy which 
he inherited so far as it enabled him to pose with ad- 
vantage against Mystics and Dogmatists, but not to that 
further issue which is the entrance to the philosophy of 

255. As it was, he never came fairly to ask himself the He gives 
fruitful question. How the sciences of quantity * continuous "^ ***^S^ 
and discreet,' which undoubtedly do exist, are possible to a as faclL 
merely feeling consciousness, because, while professedly 
reducing all consciousness to this form,, he still allowed 
himself to interpret it in the terms of these sciences and, 
having done so, could easily account for their apparent 
* abstraction ' from it. If colour is already for feeling a 
magnitude, as is implied in calling it a ^ composition of 
coloured points,' the question, how a knowledge of magni- 
tude is possible, is of course superfluous. It only remains to 
deal, as Hume professes to do, with the apparent abstraction 



in mathematics of magnitude from colour and the conse- 
quent suppositions of pure space and infinite divisibility. 
Any ulterior problem he ignores. That magnitude is not 
any the more a feeling for being ^ endowed with colour ' he 
shows no suspicion. He pursues his 'sensationalism' in 
short, in its bearing on mathematics, just as far as Berkeley 
did and no further. The question at issue, as he conceived 
it, was not as to the possibility of magnitude altogether, but 
only as to the existence of a vacuum ; not as to the possi- 
bility of number altogether, but only as to the infinity of 
its parts. Just as he takes magnitude for granted as found 
in extension, and extension as equivalent to the feeling of 
colour, so he takes number for granted, without indeed any 
explicit account of the impression in which it is to be foimd, 
but apparently as found in time, which again is identified 
with the succession of impressions. In the second part of 
the Treatise, though the idea of number is assumed and an 
account is given of it which is supposed to be fatal to the 
infinite divisibility of extension, we are told nothing of the 
impression or impressions from which it is derived. In the 
Fourth Part, however, there is a passage in which a certain 
consideration of time is spoken of as its source. 
Hifl ac- 256. In the latter passage, in order to account for the 

2^2^ idea of identity, he is supposing *a single object placed 
tion be- before us and surveyed for any time without our discovering 
Ti^'^and ^ ^^ any variation or interruption.* *When we consider 
Number, any two points of this time,* he proceeds, * we may place 
them in different lights. We may either survey them 
at the veiy same instant ; in which case they give us the 
idea of number, both by themselves and by the object, 
which must be multiplied in order to be conceived at once, 
as existent in these two different points of time : or, on the 
other hand, we may trace the succession of time by a like 
succession of ideas, and conceiving first one moment, along 
with the object then existent, imagine afterwards a change 
in the time without any variation or interruption in the ob- 
ject ; in which case it gives us the idea of unity.* * 
What does 257. A slight scrutiny of this passage will show that it is 
itoometo? a prolonged tautology. The difference is merely verbal be- 
tween the processes by which the ideas of number and unity 

» P. 490. 


Are Beyerally supposed to be given, except tliat in the former 
process it is the moment of surveying the times that is 
supposed to be one, while the times themselves are many; 
in the latter it is the object that is supposed to be one, but 
the times many. According to the second version of the 
former process — ^that according to which the different times 
surveyed together are said to give the idea of number * by 
their object ' — even this difference disappears. The only re- 
maining distinction is that in the one case the object is 
supposed to be given as one, ^without interruption or 
variation,' but to become multiple as conceived to exist in 
different moments; in the other the objects are supposed to 
be given as manifold, being ideas presented in successive 
times, but to become one through the imaginary restriction 
of the multiplicity to the times in distinction from the 
object. Undoubtedly any one of these yerbally distinct 
processes will yield indifferently the ideas of number and of 
unity, since these ideas in strict correlativity are presupposed 
by each of them. * Two points of time surveyed at the same 
time' will give us the idea of number because, being a 
duality in unity, they are already a number. So, too, and 
for the same reason, will the object, one in itself but multiple 
as existent at different times. Nor does the idea given by 
imagining ideas, successively presented, to be ^ one uninter- 
rapted object,' differ from the above more than many-in-one 
differs from one-in-many. The real questions of course are. 
How two times can be surveyed at one time ; how a single 
object can be multiplied or become many ; how a succes- 
sion of ideas can be imagined to be an unvaried and unin- 
terrupted object. To these questions Hume has no answer 
to give. His reduction of thought to feeling logically ex- 
cluded an answer, and the only alternative for him was to 
ignore or disguise them. 

258. In the passage from part n. of the Treatise, already Unitei 
referred to, he distinctly tells us that the unity to which •^°"® 
existence belongs excludes multiplicity. ^ Existence itself e^st^ 
belongs to unity, and is never applicable to number but on number a 
accoimt of the unites of which the number is composed, denomin*. 
Twenty men may be said to exist, but 'tis only because one, tlon.* 
two, three, four, &c., are existent. • .. • . A unite, con- 
sisting of a number of fractions, is merely a fictitious de- 
nomination, which the mind may apply to any quantity of 




and ' nma- 
ber' an 
tire; and 
the rap- 
poted fic- 
tion nnae* 

objects it collects together; nor can such an nnity any more 
exist alone than number can, as being in reidity a true 
number. But the unity which can exist alone, and whose 
existence is necessary to that of all number, is of another 
kind and must be perfectly indivisible and incapable of 
being resolved into any lesser unity.' ' What then is the 
' unity which can exist alone '? The answer, according to 
Hume, must be that it is an impression separately felt and 
not resoluble into any other impressions. But then the 
question arises, how a succession of such impressions can 
form a number or sum; and if they cannot, how the so- 
called real unity or separate impression can in any sense be 
a unite, since a unite is only so as one of a sum. To put the 
question otherwise. Is it not the case that a unite has no more 
meaning without number than number without unites, and 
that every number is not only just such a * fictitious denomi- 
nation,' as Hume pronounces a * unite consisting of a number 
of fractions ' to be, but a fiction impossible for our conscious- 
ness according to Hume's account of it? It will not do to 
say that such a question touches only the fiction of ' abstract 
number,' but not the existence of numbered objects ; that 
(to take Hume's instance) twenty men exist with the exist- 
ence of each individual man, each real unit, of the lot. It is 
precisely the numerability of objects — ^not indeed their exist- 
ence, if that only means their successive appearance, but 
their existence as a svm — ^that is in question. If such numer- 
ability is possible for such a consciousness as Hume makes 
ours to be ; in other words, if he can explaiu the fact that 
we count ; ^ abstract number ' may no doubt be left to take 
care of itself. Is it then possible 9 ^ Separate impressions ' 
mean impressions felt at different times, which accordingly 
can no more co-exist than, to use Hume's expression, ^ the 
year 1787 can concur with the year 1738;' whereas the 
constituents of a sum must, as such, co-exist. Thus when 
we are told that Hwenty may be said to exist because 
one, two, three, Ac., are existent^' the alleged reason, under- 
stood as Hume was bound to understand it, is incompatible 
with the supposed consequence. The existence of an object 
would, to him, mean no more than the occurrence of an 
impression ; but that one impression should occur, and then 

> P. 338. 


another and then another, is the exact opposite of their co- 
existence as a sum of impressions, and it is such co-existence 
that is implied when the impressions are counted and pro- 
nounced BO many. Thus when Hume tells us that a single 
object, by being * multiplied in order to be conceived at once 
OS existent in different points of time/ gives us the idea of 
Bumber, we are forced to ask him what precisely it is which 
thus, being one, can become manifold. Is it a * xmite that 
can exist alone ' 9 That, having no parts, cannot become 
manifold by resolution. * But it may by repetition? * No, 
for it is a separate impression, and the repetition of an im- 
pression cannot co-exist, so as to form one sum, with ita 
former occurrence. ' But it may be thought of as doing so ?' 
No, for that, according to Hume, could only mean that feel- 
ings might concur in a fainter stage though they could not 
in a livelier. Is the single object then a unite which already 
consists of parts P But that is a ^ fictitious denomination,' 
and presupposes the very idea of number that has to be ac« 
counted for. 

259. The impossibility of getting number, as a many-in- ides of 
one, out of the succession of feelings, so long as the self is ^™® ®^«^ 
treated as only another name for that succession, is less easy ^^n^T 
to disguise when the supposed units are not merely given in a^le on 
succession, but are actually the moments of the succession ; prbdplM. 
in other words, when time is the many-in-one to be accounted 
for. How can a multitude of feelings of which no two are 
present together, undetermined by relation to anything other 
than the feelings, be at the same time a consciousness of the 
relation between the moments in which the feelings are 
given, or of a sum which these moments formP How can 
there be a relation between ^objects' of which one has 
ceased before the other has begun to exist P ' For the same 
reason,' says Hume, 'that the year 1737 cannot concur with 
the present year 1738, every moment must be distinct from, 
and posterior or antecedent to, another.' ^ How then can the 
present moment form one sum with all past moments, the 
present year with all past years ; the sum which we indicate 
by the number 1 738 ? The answer of common sense of course 
\vill be that, though the feeling of one moment is really past 
before that of another begins, yet thought retains the former, 
and combining it with the latter, gets the idea of time both 

» P. 838. 


as a relation and as a sam. Such an answer, howeTer, im- 
plies that the retaining and combining thought is other 
than the succession of the feelings, and while it takes this 
succession to be the reality, imports into it that determina^ 
tion by the relations of past and present which it can only 
deriye from the retaining and combining thought opposed to 
it. It is thus both inconsistent with Hume's doctrine, 
which allows no such distinction between thought, t.6* the 
succession of ideas, and the succession of impressions, and 
inconsistent with itself. Yet Hume by disguising both in- 
consistencies contrives to avail himself of it. By tacitly 
assuming that a conception of * the manner in which impres- 
i^ions appear to the mind ' is given in and with the occurrence 
of the impressions, he imports the coneciousness of time, 
both as relation and as numerable quantity, into the sequence 
of impressions. He thus gains the advantage of being able 
to speak of this sequence indifferently under predicates which 
properly exclude each other. He can make it now a con- 
sciousness in time, now a consciousness of itself as in time ; 
now a series that cannot be summed, now a conception of the 
' sum of the series. The sequence of feelings, then, having 

been so dealt with as to make it appear in effect that time 
can be felty that it should be thougU of can involve no further 
difficulty. The conception, smuggled into sensitive experi- 
ence as an ' impression/ can be extracted from it again as 
^ idea,' without ostensible departure from the principle that 
the idea is only the weaker impression. 

260. * The idea of time is not derived from a particular 

Hit offten- impression mixed up with others and plainly distinguishable 

"^^® don ^°^ them, but arises altogether from the manner in which 

of iu impressions appear ix> the mind, without making one of the 

number. Five notes played on the flute give us the impression 

and idea of time, though time be not a sixth impression 

which presents itself to the hearing or any other of the 

senses. Nor is it a sixth impression which the mind by 

reflection finds in itself. These five sounds, making their 

appearance in this particular manner, excite no emotion or 

affection in the mind, which being observed by it can give 

rise to a new idea. For that is necessary to produce a new 

idea of reflection; nor can the mind, by revolving over a 

thousand times all its ideas of sensation, ever extract from 

them any new original idea, unless nature has so fiumed its 


faculties that it feels some new original impression arise 
from such a contemplation. But here it only takes notice of 
the manner in which the different sounds make their appear- 
ance, and that it may afterwards consider without considering 
these particular sounds, but may conjoin it with any other 
objects. The ideas of some objects it certainly must have, 
nor is it possible for it without these ever to arrive at any 
conception of time ; which, since it appears not as any pri- 
mary distinct impression, can plainly be nothing but dif- 
ferent ideas or impressions or objects disposed in a certain 
manner, i.e. succeeding each other.' ^ 

261. In this passage the equivocation between ^impression' ittamB 
as feeling, and * impression' as conception of the manner in iipon equi- 
which feelings occur, is less successfully disguised than lb the b^ween 
like equivocation in the account of extension — not indeed from feeling and 
any fkilure in Hume's power of statement, but from the of toiL***"^ 
nature of the case. In truth the mere reproduction of impres- tions be- 
sions can as little account for the one conception as for the SdM. 
other. Just as, in order to account for the * impression ' from 
which the abstract idea of space may be derived, we have 
to suppose first that the feeling of colour, through being 
presented by the self-conscious subject to itself, becomes a 
coloured thing, and next, that this thing is viewed as a 
whole of parts limiting each other ; so, in order to account 
for the ^ impression ' from which the idea of time may be 
abstracted, we have to suppose the presentation of the suc- 
cession of feelings to a consciousness not in succession, and 
the consequent view of such presented succession as a sum of 
numerable parts. It is a relation only possible for a think- 
ing consciousness — a relation, in Hume's language, not de- 
pending on the nature of the impressions related — ^that has 
in each case to be introduced into experience in order to be 
extracted from it again by * consideration : ' but there is this 
difference, that in one case the relation is not really between 
feelings at all, but between things or parts of a thing ; while in 
the other it is just that relation between feelings, the intro- 
duction of which excludes the possibility that any feeling 
should be the consciousness of the relation. Thus to speak 
of a feeling of extension does not involve so direct a contra- 
diction as to speak in the same way of time. The reader 
gives Hume the benefit of a way of IJiinking which Hume's 

» P. 343. 


own theory excludes. Himself distinguishing between feel- 
ing and felt thing, and regarding extension as a relation 
between parts of a thing, he does not reflect that for Hume 
there is no such distinction ; that a ^ feeling of extension ' 
means that feeling is extended, which again means that it 
has co-existent parts ; and that what is thus said of feeling as 
extended ia incompatible with what is said of it as feeling. 
But when it comes to a * feeling of time * — a feeling of the 
successiveness of all feelings — ^the incompatibility between 
what is said of feeling as the object and what is implied of 
it as the subject is less easy to disguise. In like manner 
because we cannot really think of extension as being that 
which yet according to Hume it is, it does not strike us, 
when he speaks of it as coloured or of colour as extended, that 
he is making one feeling a quality of another. But it 
would be otherwise if any specific feeling were taken as a 
quality of what is ostensibly a relation between all feelings. 
There is thus no * sensible quality ' with which time can be 
said to be * endowed,' as extension with * colour and solidity;* 
none that can be made to do the same duty in regard to it 
as these do in regard to extension, * giving the idea * of it 
without actually being it. 
He fails to 262. Hence, as the passage last quoted shows, in the case 
hnpfession ^^ ^^^^ ^'^^ alternative between ascribing it to a sixth sense, 
or com- and confessing that it is not an impression at all, is very hard 
Fm"res-°^ to avoid. It would seem that there is an impression of * the 
Bions from manner in which impressions appear to the mind,' which yet 
which idea jg ^q « distinct impression.' What, then, is it ? It cannot be 

of time If i..i. . /» i.ii .. -Ill 

copied. any one of the impressions of sense, for then it would be a 
distinct impression. It cannot be a * compound impression,* 
for such composition is incompatible with that successiveness 
of all feelings to each other which is the object of the sup- 
posed impression. It cannot be any * new original impression' 
arising from the contemplation of other impressions, for then, 
according to Hume, it would be ^ an affection or emotion.' 
But after the exclusion of impressions of sense, compound 
impressions, and impressions of reflection, Hume's inventory 
of the possible sources of ideas is exhausted. To have been 
consistent, he ought to have dealt with the relation of time 
as he afterwards does with that of cause and effect, and, in 
default of an impression from which it could be derived, have 
reduced it to a figure of speech. But since the possibility 


of accounting for the propensities to feign, whicH onr Ian- 
gaage about cause and effect according to him represents, 
required the consciousness of relation in time, this course 
could not be taken. Accordingly after the possibility of time 
being an impression has been excluded as plainly as it can 
be by anything short of a direct negation, by a device singu- 
larly na^ it is made to appear as an impression afber all. 
On being told that the consciousness of time is not a ' new 
original impression of reflection,' since in that case it would 
be an emotion or affection, but ^ tyidy the notice which the 
mind takes of the manner in which impressions appear to it,' 
the reader must be supposed to forget the previous admission 
that it is no distinct impression at all, and to interpret this 
'notice which the mind takes,' because it is not an im- 
pression of reflection, as an impression of sense. To make 
such interpretation easier, the account given of time earlier 
in the paragraph quoted is judiciously altered at its close, so 
that instead of having to ascribe to feeling a consciousness 
of ' the manner in which impressions appear to the mind,' 
we have only to ascribe to it the impressions so appearing. 
But this alteration admitted, what becomes of the ^ abstract- 
ness ' of the idea of time, i.e. of the possibility of its being 
' conjoined with any objects' indifferently? It is the essential 
condition of such indifferent conjunction, as Hume puts it, 
that time should be only the manner of appearance as dis- 
tinct from the impressions themselves. If time is the im- 
pressions, it must have the specific sensuous character which 
belongs to these. It must be a multitude of sounds, a multi- 
tude of tastes, a multitude of smells — ^these one after the 
other in endless series. How then can such a series of im- 
pressions become such an idea, i.e. so grow fainter as to be 
* conjoined ' indifferently * with any impressions whatever ' ? 

263. The case then between Hume and the conceptions How md 
which the exact sciences presuppose, as we have so far ex- ^ adjust 
amined it, stands thus. Of the idea of quantity, as such, he ^^ences^to 
gives no account whatever. We are told, indeed, that there his theory 
are 'unites which can exist alone,' i.e. can be felt separately, ^l^^p 
and which are indivisible ; but how such unites, being sepa- 
rate impressions, can form a sum or number, or what mean^ 
ing a unite can have except as one of a number — how again 
a sum formed of separate unites can be a continuous whole or 
magnitude — we are not told at alL Of the ideas of space 


and time we do find an account. They are said to be given m 
impressionsy but, to justify this account of them, each im- 
pression has to be taken to be at the same time a con- 
sciousness of the manner of its own existence, as determined 
by relation to other impressions not felt along with it and as 
interpreted in a way that presupposes the unexplained idea 
of quantity. With this supposed origin of the ideas the 
sciences resting on them have to be adjusted. They may 
take the relations of number and magnitude, time and space, 
for granted, as * qualities of perceptions,' and no question will 
be asked as to how the perceptions come to assume qualities 
confessed to be * independent of their own nature.' It is only 
when they treat them in a way incompatible not merely with 
their being feelings — that must always be the case — ^but with 
their being relations between felt things, that they are sup- 
posed to cross the line which separates experimental know- 
ledge firom metaphysical jargon. So long then as space is 
considered merely as the relation of externality between ob- 
jects of the * outer,' time as that of succession between ob- 
jects of the ' inner,' sense — in other words, so long as they 
remain what they are to the earliest self-consciousness and 
do not become the subject matter of any science of quantity — 
if we sink the difference between feelings and relations of 
felt things, and ask no questions about the origin of the dis- 
tinction between outer and inner sense, they may be taken 
as data of sensitive experience. It is otherwise when they 
are treated as quantities, and it is their susceptibility of being 
so treated that, rightly understood, brings out their true 
character as the intelligible element in sensitive experience. 
But Hume contrives at once to treat them as quantities, 
thus seeming to give the exact sciences their due, and yet to 
appeal to their supposed origin in sense as evidence of their 
not having properties which, if they are quantities, they cer- 
tainly must have. Having thus seemingly disposed of the 
purely intelligible character of quantity in its application to 
space and time, he can more safely ignore what he could not 
so plausibly dispose of— its pure intelligibility as number. 
In order ^^^* ^^ Condition of such a method being acquiesced in 

to seem to is, that quantity in all its forms should be found reducible to 
murt 'get tdtimate unites or indivisible parts in the shape of separate 
rid of 'In- impressions. Should it be found so, the whole question 
8U)fi?ty.*^' i^^d^d, how ideas of relation axe possible for a merely feeling 


consciousness, would sidll remain, but mathematics would 
stand on the. same footing with the experimental sciences, as 
a science of relations between impressions. Upon this redu- 
ctibility, then, we find Hume constantly insisting. In regard 
to number indeed he could not ignore the fact that the 
science which deals with it recognizes no ultimate unite, but 
only such a one as ^ is itself a true number.' But he passes 
lightly over this difficulty with the remark that the divisible 
unite of actual arithmetic is a * fictitious denomination ' — 
leaving his reader to guess how the fiction can be possible if 
the real unite is a separate indivisible impression — and pro- 
ceeds with the more hopeful task of resolving space into such 
impressions. He is well aware that the constitution of space 
by impressions and its constitution by indivisible parts stand 
or faU together. K space is a compound impression, it is 
made up of indivisible parts, for there is a * minimum visibile ' 
and by consequence a minimum of imagination ; and con- 
versely, if its parts are indivisible, they can be nothing but 
impressions ; for, being indivisible, they cannot be extended, 
and, not being extended, they must be either simple impres- 
sions or nothing. With that instinct of literary strategy 
which never fails him, Hume feels that the case against 
infinite divisibility, from its apparent implication of an in- 
finite capacity in the mind, is more effective than that in 
&vour of space being a compound impression, and accordingly 
puts tiiat to the front in the Second Part of the Treatise, 
in order, having found credit for establishing it, to argue 
back to the constitution of space by impressions. In fact, 
however, it is on the supposed composition of all quantity 
from separate impressions that his argument against its 
infinite divisibility rests. 

265. The essence of his doctrine is contained in the fol- Quantity 
lowing passages : * 'Tis certain that the imagination reaches ™?^« ^9 
a mimmiMfny and may raise up to itself an idea, of which it bioi^, and 
cannot conceive any subdivision, and which cannot be dimi- there muit 
nished without a total annihilation. When you teU me of poJJibie 
the thousandth and ten thousandth part of a grain of sand, £ impres- 
have a distinct idea of these numbers and of their several ®^^"* 
proportions, but the images which I form in my mind to 
represent the things themselves are nothing different from 
each other nor inferior to that image by which I repi'esent 
the grain of sand itself, which is supposed so vastly to 



Yet it 18 
that there 
is an idea 
of number 
not made 
up of im- 

exceed them* What consists of parts is disting^hable into 
them, and what is distinguishable is sepfiar^ble. But what- 
ever we maj imagine of the thing, the idea of a grain of 
sand is not distinguishable nor separable into twenty, much 
less into a thousand, ten thousand, or an infinite number of 
different ideas. 'Tis the same case with the impressions of 
the senses as with the ideas of the imagination. Put a spot 
of ink upon paper, fix your eye upon that spot, and retire to 
such a distance that at last you lose sight of it ; 'tis plain 
that the moment before it vanished the image or impression 
was perfectly indivisible. *Tis not for want of rays of light 
striking on our eyes that the minute parts of distant bodies 
convey not any sensible impression ; but because they are 
removed beyond that distance at which their impressions 
were reduced to a minimumj and were incapable of any 
further diminution. A microscope or telescope, which 
renders them visible, produces not any new rays of light, but 
only spreads those which always flowed from them ; and by 
that means both gives parts to impressions, which to the 
naked eye appear simple and uncompounded, and advances to 
a minimum what was formerly imperceptible.' ' (Part ii. 


266. In this passage it will be seen that Hume virtually 
yields the point as regards number. When he is told of the 
thousandth or ten thousandth part of a grain of sand he has 
^ a distinct idea of these numbers and of their different pro- 
portions,' though to this idea no distinct 'image' cor- 
responds ; in other words, though the idea is not a copy of 
any impression. It is of such parts cls parts of the grain of 
samd — as parts of a * compound impression ' — ^that he can form 
no idea, and for the reason given in the sequel, that they are 
less than any possible impression, less than the ' minimum 
visibile.' This, it would seem, is a fixed quantity. That 
which is the least possible impression once is so always. 
Telescopes and microscopes do not alter it, but present it 
under conditions under which it could not be presented to 
the naked eye. Their effect, according to Hume, could not 
be to render that visible which existed unseen before, nor to 
reveal parts in that which previously had, though it seemed 
not to have, them — that would imply that an impression was 
^ an image of something distinct and external ' — but either to 

> P. S86. 


present a simple impression of sight where previously there 
was none or to substitute a compound impression for one 
that was simple.^ It is then because all divisibility is sup- 
posed to be into impressions, i.e. into feelings, and because 
there are conditions under which every feeling disappears, 
that an infinite divisibility is pronounced impossible. But A flmte 
the question is whether a finite divisibility into feelings is not ixlto^lnT- 
just as impossible as an infinite one. Just as for the reasons pressions 
stated above* a 'compound feeling* is impossible, so is the ™"Jie 
division of a compound into feelings. Undoubtedly if the than an in- 

* minimum visibile * were a feeling it would not be divisible, ^^^ ®"*' 
but for the same reason it would not be a quantity. But if 

it is not a quantity, with what meaning is it called a minimum, 
and how can a quantity be supposed to be made up of such 
'visibilia' as have themselves no quantity? In truth the 
' minimum visibile ' is not a feeling at aU but a felt thing, 
conceived under attributes of quantity ; in particular, as the 
term * minimum * implies, under a relation of proportion to 
other quantities of which, if expressed numerically, Hume 
himself, according to the admission above noticed, would have 
to confess there was an idea which was an image of no im- 
pression. That which thought thus presents to itself as a 
thing doubtless has been a feeling ; but, as thus presented, it 
is already other than and independent of feeling. With a 
step backward or a turn of the head, the feeling may cease, 

* the spot of ink may vanish ; ' but the thing does not there- 
fore cease to be a thing or to have quantity, which implies 
the possibility of continuous division. 

267. It is thus the confusion between feeling and concep- in Hume's 
tion that is at the bottom of the difficulty about divisibmty. '^"f^^ 
For a consciousness formed merely by the succession of really a 
feelings, as there would be no thing at all, so there would be ^^jjj^jj!^^] 
no parts of a thing — no addibility or divisibility. But Hume thing, that 
is forced by the exigencies of his theory to hold together, as appears as 
best he may, the reduction of all consciousness to feeling diilJi^ibie. 
and the existence for it of divisible objects. The conse- 
quence is his supposition of 'compound impressions' or 
feelings having paxts, divisible into separate impressions 

' It wiU be noticed that in the last telescope or microscope as representing 
sentence of the passage quoted, Hnme something other than itself, which pre- 
assumes the convenient privilege of yiously existed, though it was impoi- 
' speaking with the vulgar,* and treats ceptible. 
the 'minimum visibile' presented by ' See above, §§241 & 246. 

VOL, I. Q 


but divisible no fnrther when these separate impressions 
have been reached. We find, however, that in all the in- 
stances he gives it is not really a feeling that is divided into 
feelings, but a thing into other things* It is the heap of 
sand, for instance, that is divided into grains, not the feeling 
which, by intellectual interpretation, represents to me a 
heap of sand that is divided into lesser feelings. I may 
feel the heap and feel the grain, but it is not a feeling that 
is the heap nor a feeling that is the grain. Hume would 
not oflend common sense by saying that it was so, but his 
theory really required that he should, for the supposition 
that the grain is no further divisible when there are no 
separate impressions into which it may be divided, implies 
that in that case it is itself a separate impression, even as the 
heap is a compound one. But what difference, it may be 
asked, does it make to say that the heap and the grain are 
not feelings, but things conceived of, if it is admitted, as 
since Berkeley it must be, that the thing is nothing outside 
or independent of consciousness 9 Do we not by such a state- 
ment merely change names and invite the question how a 
thought can have parts, in place of the question how a 
feeling can have them ? 
Upon tme 268. If thought were no more than Hume takes feeling to 
notion of 1^^^ ^his objection would be valid. But if by thought we 
?nanite^ Understand the self-conscious principle which, present to 
divisibility all feelings, forms out of them a world of mutually related 
couwe! ^ objects, permanent with its own permanence, we shall also 
understand that the relations by which thought qualifies its 
object are not qualities of itself — ^that, in blinking of its 
object as made up of parts, it does not become itself a 
quantum. We shall also be on the way to understand how 
thought, detaching that relation of simple distinctness by 
which it has qualified its objects, finds before it a multitude 
of units of which each, as combining in itself distinctions 
from all the other units, is at the same time itself a multi- 
tude ; in other words, finds a quantum of which each part, 
being the same in kind with the whole and all other parts, 
is also a quantum ; i.e. which is infinitely divisible. YH^en 
once it is understood, in short, that quantity is simply the 
most elementary of the relations by which thought consti- 
tutes the real world, as detached from this world and pre- 
sented by thought to itself as a separate object, then infinite 


diyisibilifcj becomes a matter of course. It is real just in so 
for as quantity, of which it is a necessary attribute, is real* 
If quantity, though not feeling, is yet real, that its parts 
should not be feelings can be nothing against their reality. 
This once admitted, the objections to infinite divisibility 
disappear; but so likewise does that mysterioas dignity 
supposed to attach to it, or to its correlative, the infinitely 
addible, as implying an infinite capacity in the mind. From 
Hume's point of view, the mind being ' a bundle of impres- 
sions ' — though how impressions, being successive, should form 
a bundle is not explained — its capacity must mean the number 
of its impressions, and, aU divisibility being into impressions, 
it follows that infinite divisibility means an infinite capacity 
in the mind. This notion however arises, as we have 
shown, firom a confusion between a fdt division of an im- 
possible *• compound feeling,' and that conceived divisibility 
of an object which constitutes but a single attribute of the 
object and represents a single relation of the mind towards 
it. There may be a sense in which all conception im 
plies infinity in the conceiving mind, but so far from thib 
doing so in any special way, it arises, as we have seen, from 
the presentation of objects under that very condition of 
endless, unremoved, distinction which constitutes the true 
limitation of our thought. 

269. When, as with Hume, it is only in its application to what are 
space and time that the question of infinite divisibility is '^*l^^^*' 
treated, its true nature is more easily disguised, for the mentsof 
reason already indicated, that space and time are not neces- extension f 
sarily considered as quanta. When Hume, indeed, speaks toDded!^' 
of space as a * composition of parts ' or * made up of points,* what are 
he is of course treating it as a quantum ; but we shall find ^ ^^ 
that in seeking to avoid the necessary consequence of its 
being a quantum — ^the consequence, namely, that it is in- 
finitdiy divisible — ^he can take advantage of the possibility of 
treating it as the simple, unquantified, relation of externality. 
We have already spoken of the dexterity with which, having 
shown that all divisibility, because into impressions, is into 
simple parts, he turns this into an argument in favour of the 
composition of space by impressions. ^ Our idea of space is 
compounded of parts which are iiidivisible.' Let us take 
one of these parts, then, and ask what sort of idea it is : 4et us 
form a judgment of its nature and qualities.' ^'Tis plain it 

Q 2 


GolouTB or 
What 18 
the dif- 
ference ? 

True way 
of dealing 
with the 

ifl not an idea of extension : for the idea of extension con- 
sists of parts ; and this idea, according to the supposition, 
is perfectly simple and indivisible. Is it therefore nothing? 
That is impossible,' for it would imply that a real idea was 
composed of nonentities. The way out of the difficulty is 
to ^ endow the simple parts with colour and solidity.' In 
words already quoted, 'that compound impression, which 
represents extension, consists of several lesser impressions, 
that are indivisible to the eye or feeling, and may be called 
impressions of atoms or corpuscles endowed vdth colour and 
solidity.' (Partii. § 3, near the end.) 

270. It is very plain that in this passage Hume is riding 
two horses at once. He is trying so to combine the notion 
of the constitution of space by impressions with that of its 
constitution by points, as to disguise the real meaning of 
each. In what lies the difference between the feelings of 
colour, of which we have shown that they cannot without 
contradiction be supposed to 'make up extension,' and 
* coloured points or corpuscles ' 9 Unless the points, as 
points, mean something, the substitution of coloured points 
for colours means nothing. But according to Hume the 
point is nothing except as an impression of sight or touch. 
If then we refuse his words the benefit of an interpretation 
which his doctrine excludes, we find that there remains 
simply the impossible supposition that space consists of 
feelings. This result cannot be avoided, unless in speaking 
of space as composed of points, we understand by the point 
that which is definitely other than an impression. Thus 
the question which Hume puts — If extension is made up of 
parts, and these, being indivisible, are unextended, what are 
they P — really remains untouched by his ostensible answer. 
Such a question indeed to a philosophy like Locke's, which, 
ignoring the constitution of reality by relations, supposed real 
things to be first found and then relations to be superinduced 
by the mind — much more to one like Hume's, which left no 
mind to superinduce them — was necessarily unanswerable. 

271. In truth, extension is the relation of mutual exter- 
nality. The constituents of this relation have not, as such, 
any nature but what is given by the relation. If in Hume's 
language we ' separate each from the others and, considering 
it apart, from a judgment of its nature and qualities,' by the 
very way we put the problem we render it insoluble or, more 


properly, destroy it ; for, thus separated, they have no nature. 
It is this that we express by tiie proposition which would 
otherwise be tautx)logical, that extension is a relation between 
extended points. The * points ' are the simplest expression 
for those coefficients to the relation of mutual externality, 
which, as determined by that relation and no otherwise, have 
themselves the attribute of being extended and that only. 
If it is asked whether the points, being extended, are there- 
fore divisible, the answer must be twofold. Separately they 
are not divisible, for separately they are nothing. Whether, 
as determined by mutual relation, they are divisible or no, 
depends on whether they are treated as forming a quantum 
or no. If they are not so treated, we cannot with propriety 
pronounce them to be either further divisible or not so, for 
the question of divisibility has no application to them. But 
being perfectly homogeneous with each other and with that 
which together they constitute, they are susceptible of l)eing 
so treated, and a/re so treated when, with Hume in the passage 
before us, we speak of them as the parts of which extended 
matter consists. Thus considered as parts of a quantum and 
therefore themselves quanta, the infinite divisibility which 
belongs to all quantity belongs also to them. 

272. In this lies the answer to the most really cogent * If the 
argument which Hume offers against infinite divisibility. J^^g^jJe^" 
^ A surface terminates a solid ; a line terminates a surface ; it would' 
a point terminates a line ; but I assert that if the ideas of a ^. °^.^^ 
point, line, or surface were not indivisible, 'tis impossible we of a line.' 
should ever conceive these terminations. For let these ideas -A-nswer to 
be supposed infinitely divisible, and then let the fancy en- 
deavour to fix itself on the idea of the last surface, line, or 
point, it immediately finds this idea to break into parts ; and 
upon its seizing the last of these parts it loses its hold by a 
new division, and so on ad infinitum^ without any possibility 
of its arriving at a concluding idea.' ' If * point,' * line,' or 
' surface' were really names for ' ideas ' either in Hume's sense, 
as feelings grown fainter, or in Locke's, as definite imprints 
made by outward things, this passage would be perplexing. 
In truth they represent objecte determined by certain con- 
ceived relations, and the relation under which the object is 
considered may vary without a corresponding variation in 
the name. When a * point' is considered simply as the 

» P. 345. 


' termination of a line/ it is not considered as a quantnm* 
It represents the abstraction of the relation of externality, as 
existing between two lines. It is these lines, not the point, 
that in this case are the constituents of the relation, and 
thus it is they alone that are for the time considered as ex- 
tended, therefore as quanta, therefore as divisible. So when 
the line in turn is considered as the ^ termination of a sur- 
face.' It then represents the relation of externality as between 
surfaces^ and for the time it is the surfaces, not the line, that 
are considered to have extension and its consequences. The 
same applies to the view of a surfex^e as the termination of a 
solid. Just as the line, though not a quantum when con- 
sidered simply as a relation between surfaces, becomes so when 
considered in relation to another line, so the point, though it 
' has no magnitude ' when considered as the termination of 
a line, yet acquires parts, or becomes divisible, so soon as it 
is considered in relation to other points as a constituent of 
extended matter ; and it is thus that Hume considers it, 
iKi)v fj ajctovy when he talks of extension as 'made up of 
coloured points.* 
What be- 278. It is the necessity then, according to his theory, of 
«)me8of making space an impression that throughout underlies 
uesB of Hume's argument against its infinite divisibility ; and, as we 
mathe- have seen, the same theory which excludes its infinite divisi- 
copding to bility logically extinguishes it as a quantity, divisible and 
Hume? measurable, altogether. He of course does not recognize this 
consequence. He is obliged indeed to admit that in regard 
to the proportions of * greater, equal and less,' and the rela- 
tions of different parts of space to each other, no judgments 
of universality or exactness are possible. We may judge of 
them, however, he holds, with various approximations to 
exactness, whereas upon the supposition of infinite divisibility, 
as he ingeniously makes out, we could not judge of them at 
all. He ' asks the mathematicians, what they mean when 
they say that one line or surface is equal to, or greater or 
less than, another.' If they * maintain the composition of 
extension by indivisible points,' their answer, he supposes, 
will be that * lines or surfaces are equal when the numbers of 
points in each are equal.' This answer he reckons 'just;' 
but the standard of equality given is entirely useless. * For 
as the points which enter into the composition of any line or 
surface, whether perceived by the sight or touch, are so 


minute and so confounded with each other that 'tis utterly 
impossible for the mind to compute their number, such a 
computation will never afford us a standard by which we 
may judge of proportions/ The opposite sect of mathema- 
ticians, however, ai^e in worse case, having no standard of 
equality whatever to assign. ' For since, according to their 
hypothesis, the least as weU as greatest figures contain an 
infinite number of parts, and since infinite numbers, properly 
speaking, can neither be equal nor unequal with respect to 
each other, the equality or inequality of any portion of space 
can never depend on any proportion in the number of their 
parts.' His own doctrine is *that the only useful notion of 
equality or inequality is derived from the whole united 
appearance, and the comparison of, particular objects.' The 
judgments thus derived are in many cases certain and in- 
fallible. ^ When the measure jof a yard and that of a foot are 
presented, the mind can no more question that the first is 
longer than the second than it can doubt of those principles 
wliich are most clear and self-evident.' Such judgments, 
however, though * sometimes infallible, are not always so.' 
Upon a * review and reflection ' we often * pronounce those 
objects equal which at first we esteemed unequal,' and vice 
versd. Often also * we discover our error by a juxtaposition 
of the objects ; or, where that is impracticable, by the use of 
some common and invariable measure which, being succes- 
sively applied to each, informs us of their different propor- 
tions. And even this correction is susceptible of a new 
correction^ and of different degrees of exactness, according to 
the nature of the instrument by which we measure the 
bodies, and the care which we employ in the comparison.' 
(Pp. 351-63.) 

274. Such indefinite approach to exactness is all that Theuni- 
Hume can allow to the mathematician. But it is undoubtedly I^"^^]^^®" 
another and an absolute sort of exactness that the mathema- of goo- 
tician himself supposes when he pronounces all right angles ™®^ ^^^ 
equal. Such perfect equality * beyond what we have instru- true or im- 
ments and art' to ascertain, Hume boldly calls a *mere '"ca'^'ng- 
fiction of the mind, useless as well as incomprehensible.'* 
Thus when the mathematician talks of certain angles as 
always equal, of certain lines as never meeting, he is either 

* P. 858. 


making statements that are untrue or speaking of nonenti- 
ties. If his ' lines * and ' angles ' mean ideas that we can 
possibly have, his universal propositions are untrue ; if they 
do not, according to Hume they can mean nothing. He 
says, for instance, that ' two right lines cannot have a com- 
mon segment ; ' but of su'ch ideas of right lines as we can 
possibly have this is only true ^ where the right lines incline 
upon each other with a sensible angle.' ^ It is not true 
when they ' approach at the rate of an inch in 20 leagues.' 
According to the * original standard of aright line,' which is 
* nothing but a certain general appearance, 'tis evident right 
lines may be made to concur with each other.' ^ Any other 
standard is a ^ useless and incomprehensible fiction.' Strictly 
speaking, according to Hume, we have it not, but only a 
tendency to suppose that we have it arising from the pro- 
gressive correction of our actual measurements.' 
Distine- 275. Now it is obvious that what Hume accounts for by 

twMn*" means of this tendency to feign, even if the tendency did not 
Hume's prcsupposc conditious incompatible with his theory, is not 
andtimtof mathematical science as it exists. It has even less appear- 
the hypo- ancc of being so than (to anticipate) has that which is ac- 
Mt^ of ^^"^^^ *^^ ^y those propensities to feign, which he sub- 
mathe- stitutes for the ideas of cause and substance, of being 
matics. natural science as it exists. In the latter case, when the 
idea of necessary connexion has been disposed of, an im- 
pression of reflection can with some plausibility be made to 
do duty instead ; but there is no impression of reflection in 
Hume's sense of the word, no * propensity,' that can be the 
subject of mathematical reasoning. He speaks, indeed, of 
our supposing some imaginaiy standard — of our having * an 
obscure and implicit nofcion ' — of perfect equality, but such 
language is only a way of saving appearances ; for according 
to him, a * supposition * or * notion ' which is neither im- 
pression nor idea, cannot be anything. A hasty reader, 
catching at the term ' supposition,' may find his statement 
plausible with all the plausibilityof the modem doctrine, which 
accounts for the universality and exactness of mathematical 
truths as * hypothetical ' — the doctrine that we suppose figures 
exactly corresponding to our definitions, though such do 

1 Of. Aristotle, MeUph, 998 a, on a ta^fai. 
corresponding view ascribed to Fro- * P. 356. > P. 354. 


not reallj eidst. With those who take this view, however, 
it is always understood that the definitions represent ideas, 
though not ideas to which real objects can be fonnd exEictlj 
answering. Perhaps, if pressed about their distinction 
between idea and reaJitj, they might find it hard consist- 
ently to maintain it, but it is by this practically that they 
keep their theory afloat. Hume can admit no such dis- 
tinction* The r^ with him is the impression, and the idea 
the fainter impression. There can be no idea of a straight line, 
a curve, a circle, a right angle, a plane, other than the impres- 
sion, otiber than the ' appearance to the eye,' and there are 
no appearances exactly answering to the mathematical defini- 
tions. If they do not exactly answer, they might as weU for the 
purposes of mathematical demonstration not answer at all. 
The Geometrician, having found that the angles at the base 
of this isosceles triangle are equal to each other, at once 
takes the equality to be true of all isosceles triangles, as 
being exactly like the original one, and on the strength of 
this establishes many other propositions. But, according to 
flume, no idea that we could have would be one of which 
the sides were precisely equal. The Fifth Proposition of 
Euclid then is not precisely true of the particular idea that 
we have before us when we follow the demonstration. Much 
less can it be true of the ideas, i.e. the several appearances 
of colour, indefinitely varying firom this, which we have 
before us when we follow the other demonstrations in which 
the equality of the angles at the base of an isosceles is taken 
for granted* 

276. Here, as elsewhere, what we have to lament is not The ad- 
that Hume * pushed his doctrine too far,' so far as to exclude J^^^o 
ideas of those exact proportions in space with which reUtionsof 
geometry purports to deal, but that he did not carry it far ^''^^^^ i 
enough to see that it excluded all ideas of quantitative sense re- 
relations whatever. He thus pays the penalty for his «<>▼«■ di^ 
equivocation between a feeling of colour and a disposition togeneml 
of coloured points. Even alongside of his admission that pi^pofli- 
* relations of space and time* are independent of the nature SiwnT 
of the ideas so related, which amounts to the admission 
that of space and time there are no ideas at all in his sense 
of the word, he allows himself to treat * proportions between 
spaces ' as depending entirely on our ideas of the spaces — 
depending ou ideas which in the context he by implication 


admits that we have not.* K, instead of thus equivocating, 
he had asked himself how sensations of colour and touch 
could be added or divided, how one could serve as a measure 
of the size of another, he might have seen that onlj in 
virtue of that in the * general appearance * of objects which, 
in his own language, is ^ independent of the nature of the 
ideas themselves * — i.e. which does not belong to them as feel- 
ings, but is added by the comparing and combining thought — 
are the proportions of greater, less, and equal predieable 
of them at all ; that what thought has thus added, viz. limi- 
taticui by mutual externality, it can abstract ; and that by 
such abstraction of the limit it obtains those several ter- 
minationSy as Hume well calls them — the surface ter- 
minating bodies, the line terminating surfaces, the point 
terminating lines — &om which it constructs the world of 
pure space : that thus the same action of thought in sense, 
which alone renders appearances measurable, gives an 
object matter which, because the pure construction of 
thought, we can measure exactly and with the certainty 
that the judgment based on a comparison of magnitudes in 
a single case is true of all possible cases, because in none of 
these can any other conditions be present than those which 
we have consciously put there. 
Humedoei 277. To have arrived at this conclusion Hume had only 
admit this ^ extend to proportions in space the principle upon which 
in reg£urd the impossibility of sensualizing arithmetic compels him to 
^ra"°^" ^®*^ with proportions in number. * We are possessed,' he 
says, * of a precise standard by which we can judge of the 
equality and proportion of numbers; and according as 
they correspond or not to that standard we determine 
their relations without any possibility of error. When two 
numbers are so combined, as. that the one has always an 
unite answering to every unite of the other, we pronounce 
them equal.'* Now what are the unites here sjKjken of? 
If they were those single impressions which he elsewhere • 
seems to regard as alone properly tmites, the point of the 
passage would be gone, for combinations of such unites 
could at any rate only yield those * general appearances ' of 
whose proportions we have been previously told there can be 
no precise standard. They can be no other than those 

» Part ra. § 1, sub init • P. 874. » Above, par. 268. 


oniteB which, not being impressions, he has to call ^fictitious 
denominations' — unites which are nothing except in relation 
to each other and of which each, being in turn divisible, is 
itself a true number. We can easily retort upon Hume, 
then, when he argues that the supposition of infinite divisi- 
bility is incompatible yrith any comparison of quantities 
because with any unite of measurement, that, according to 
his own virtual admission, in the only case where such com- 
parison is exact the ultimate unite of measurement is still 
itself divisible ; which, indeed, is no more than saying that 
whatever measures quantity must itself be a quantity,^ and 
that therefore quantity is infinitely divisible. K Hume, 
Instead of slurring over this characteristic of the science 
of number, had set himself to explain it, he would have 
found that the only possible explanation of it was one 
equally applicable to the science of space — that what is 
true of the unite, as the abstraction of distinctness, is true 
also of the abstraction of externality. As the unite, be- 
cause constituted by relation to other unites, so soon as 
considered breaks into multiplicity, and only for that reason 
is a quantity by which other quantities can be measured ; 
so is it also with the limit in whatever form abstracted, 
whether as point, line, or surfax^e. If the fact that number 
can have no least part since each part is itself a number or 
nothing, so far from being incompatible with the finiteness 
of number, is the consequence of that finiteness, neither 
can the like attribute in spaces be incompatible with their 
being definite magnitudes, that can be compared with and 
measured by each other. The real difference, which is also 
the rationale of Hume's different procedure in the two cases, 
is that the conception of space is more easily confused than 
that of number with the feelings to which it is applied, and 
which through such application become sensible spaces. 
Hence the liability to the supposition, which is at bottom 
Hume's, that the last feeling in the process of diminution 
before such sensible space disappears (being the ^ minimum 
visibile ') is the least possible portion of space. 

278. Just as that reduction of consciousness to feeling, with 
which really excludes the idea of quantity altogether, is by ^^^ »d«a 
Hume only recognised as incompatible with its infinite divisi- impossu"* 
bility, so it is not recognised as extinguishing space altogether, We, bnt 
but only space as a vacuum. K it be true, he says, * that the ,^nio» 


So than idea of space is nothing but the idea of visible or tangible 
•Mce*^ points distributed in a certain order, it follows that we can 
form no idea of vacuum, or space where there is nothing 
visible or tangible.'^ Here as elsewhere the acceptability of 
his statement lies in its being taken in a sense which ac- 
cording to his principles cannot properly belong to it. It 
is one doctrine that the ideas of space and body are es- 
Bentially correlative, and quite another that the idea of space 
is equivalent to a feeling of sight or touch. It is of the latter 
doctrine that Hume's denial of a vacuum is the corollary ; 
but it is the former that gains acceptance for this denial in 
the mind of his reader. Space we have already spoken of as 
the relation of externality. If, abstracting this relation from 
the world of which it is the uniform but most elementary 
determination, we regard it as a relation between objects 
having no other determination, these become spaces and 
nothing but spaces — space pure and simple, vdcimm. But we 
have known ^e world in confused fulness before we detach 
its constituent relations in the clearness of unreal abstraction. 
Wehave known bodies ervy^ej^vfUiwpjbeforewethinktheir limits 
apart and outof these construct a world of purespace. It is thus 
in a sense true that in the development of our consciousness 
an idea of body precedes that of space, though the ohtttraetion 
of space — ^the detachment of the relation so-called from the 
real complex of relations — precedes that of body ; and it is 
this fact that, in the face of geometry, strengthens common 
sense in its position that an idea of vacuum is impossible. 
It is not, however, the inseparability of space from body 
whether in reality or for our consciousness, but its identity 
with a certain sort of feeling, that is implied in Hume's ex- 
clusion of the idea of vacuum. * Body,' as other than feeling, 
is with him as much a fiction as vacuum. That there can 
be no idea of vacuum, is thus in fact merely his negative way 
of putting that proposition of which the positive form is, that 
space is a compound impression of sight and touch. Having 
examined that proposition in the positive, we need not ex- 
amine it again in the negative form. It will be more to the 
purpose to enquire whether the * tendency to suppose * or 
* propensity to feign ' by which, in the absence of any such 
idea, om* language about ' pure space ' has to be accomited 

» P. 358. 


for, does not according to Humors own showing presuppose 
snch an idea. 

279. By vacaum he understands invisible and intangible How ii ig 
extension. If an idea of vacuum, then, is possible at all, he ^^^^^ 
argues, it must be possible for darkness and mere motion to we had 
convey it. That they cannot do so alone is clear from the '<^ ^ 
consideration that darkness is ^ no positive idea ' and that an according 
* invariable motion,' such as that of a * man supported in the ^ Hume. 
air and softly conveyed along by some invisible power,' gives 
no idea at alL Neither can they do so when * attended with 
visible and tangible objects.' *When two bodies present 
themselves where there was formerly an entire darkness, the 
only change that is discoverable is in the appearance of these 
two objects : all the rest continues to be, as before, a perfect 
negation of light and of every coloured or tangible object.'* 
' Such dark and indistinguishable distance between two bodies 
can never produce the idea of extension,' any more than 
blindness can. Neither can a like ' imaginary distance be- 
tween tangible and solid bodies.' * Suppose two cases, viz. 
that of a man supported in the air, and moving his limbs to 
and fro without meeting anything tangible ; and that of a 
man who, feeling something tangible, leaves it, and after a 
motion of which he is sensible x>erceives another tangible 
object. Wherein consists the difference between these two 
cases P No one will scruple to afQrm that it consists merely 
in the i)erceiving those object43, and that the sensation which 
arises from the motion is in both cases the same; and as 
that sensation is not capable of conveying to us an idea of 
extension, when unaccompanied with some other perception, 
it can no more give us tlmt idea, when mixed with the im- 
pressions of tangible objects, since that mixture produces no 
alteration upon it.'* But though a ^ distance not filled with 
any coloured or solid object' cannot give us an idea of vsicuum, 
it is the cause why we falsely imagine that we can form such 
an idea. There are ^ three relations ' — natural relations ac- 
cording to Hume's phraseology* — ^between it and that distance 
which really * conveys the idea of extension.' ^ The distant 
objects affect the senses in the same manner, whether sepa- 
rated by the one distance or the other ; the former specieii 
of distance is found capable of receiving the latter ; and fchey 

« P. 862. « P. 363. » Above, § 206. 


both eqnallj diminish the force of every quality. These re- 
lations betwixt the two kinds of distance will afford ns an 
easy reason why the one has so often been taken for the 
other, and why we imagine we have an idea of extension 
without the idea of anj object either of the sight or feeling.'^ 
His 0xpU- 280. It appears then that we have an idea of ^ distance 
"ues^th^' ^^^^ ^*^ ®^y coloured or solid object.' To speak of this 
we haye distance as < imaginary ' or fictitious can according to Hume's 
an idea principles make no difference, so long as he admits, which 
^e wnM. h^ is obliged to do, that we actually have an idea of it ; for 
every idea, being derived from an impression, is as much or 
as little imaginary as every other. And not onlj have we 
such an idea, but Hume's account of the ' relations ' between 
it and the idea of extension implies that, as ideas of dieia$icey 
they do not differ at all. But the idea of ' distance unfilled 
with any coloured or solid object ' is the idea of vacuum. It 
follows that the idea of extension does not differ fix>m that of 
vacuum, except so far as it is other than the idea of distance. 
But it is from the consideration of distance that Hume him- 
self expressly derives it;* and so derived, it can no more 
differ from distance than an idea from a corresponding im- 
pression. Thus, after all, he has to all intents and purposes 
to admit the idea of vacuum, but saves appearances bj re- 
fusing to call it extension — the sole reason for such reftisal 
being the supposition that every idea, and therefore the 
idea of extension, must be a datum of sense, which the 
admission of an idea of ' invisible and intangible distance' 
abeady contradicts. 
By alike 281. We now know the nature of that preliminary mani- 
he^s able^ Puliation which * impressions and ideas ' have to undergo, if 
to explain their association is to yield the result which Hume requires 
pearance — ^ through it the succession of feelings is to become a 
of our knowledge of things and their relations. Such a result was 
BuS^eas ^^q^"^ ^^ ^^^ ^°ly naeans of maintaining together the two 
B8 Gaosa- characteristic positions of Locke's philosophy ; that, namely, 
IdaiSt^ the only world we can know Is the world of * ideas,' and that 
thought cannot originate ideas. Those relations, which 
Locke had inconsistently treated at once as intellectual 
superinductions and as ultimate conditions of reality, must be 
dealt with by one of two methods. They must be reduced to 

* P. S64. ' Pkrt n. § 8, sab. iut 


impressions where that could plansiblj be done: where it 
could noty it must be admitted that we have no ideas of 
them, but only * tendencies to suppose * that we have such, 
arising from ^e association, through ^natural relations/ of 
the ideas that we have. So dexterously does Hume work 
the former method that, of all the * philosophical relations ' 
which he recognizes, only Identity and Causation remain to 
be disposed of by the latter ; and if the other relations — 
resemblance, time and space, proportion in quantity and 
degree in quality — could really be admitted as data of sense, 
there would at least be a possible basis for those ' tendencies 
to suppose ' which, in the absence of any corresponding ideas, 
the terms ^ Identity ' and ^ Causation ' must be taken to re- 
present. But, as we have shown, they can only be claimed 
for sense, if sense is so far one with thought— one not by 
conversion of thought into sense but by taking of sense into 
thought — ^as that Hume's favourite appeals to sense against 
the reality of intelligible relations become unmeaning. They 
may be ^ impressions,' there may be ^ impressions of them,' 
but only if we deny of the impression what Hume asserts of 
it, and asserb of it ^hat he denies — only if we understand by 
^impression' not an ^internal and perishing existence;' not 
that which, if other than taste, colour, sound, smell or touch, 
must be a ^ passion or emotion ' ; not that which carries no 
reference to an object other than itself, and which must either 
be single or compound; but something permanent and con- 
stituted by permanenUy coexisting parts; something that 
may ' be conjoined with ' any feeling, because it is none ; that 
always carries with it a reference to a subject which it is not 
but of which it is a quality ; and that is both many and one, 
since ^ in its simplicity it contains many different resemblances 
and relations.' 

282. In the account just adduced of vacuum, the effect of 
that double dealing with ^ impressions,' which we shall have 
to trace at large in Hume's explanation of our language 
about Causation and Identity, is already exhibited in little. 
Just as, after the idea of pure space has been excluded because 
not a copy of any possible impression, we yet find an * idea.* 
only differing from it in name, introduced as the basis of thar. 
tendency to suppose which is to take the place of the ex- 
cluded idea, so we shall find ideas of relation in the way of 
Identity and Causation — ideas which accoraing to Hume we 


have not— presupposed as the source of those ^ propensities 

to feign ' by which he accounts for the appearance of our 

having thenu 

Know- 283. The primary characteristic of these relations accord- 

nlftion in ^ ^ Hume, which they share with those of space and time, 

way of and which in fiict vitiates that definition of ^ philosophical 

and***^ relation,* as depending on comparison, which he adopts, is 

Caosation that they ^ depend not on the ideas compared together, bnt 

^^Lodte'a ™*y ^ changed without any change in the ideas.* ■ It 

deanition foUows that they are not objects of knowledge, according to 

jTj^®^" the definition of knowledge which Hume inherited, as * the 

perception of agreement or disagreement between ideas/ A 

partial recognition of this consequence in regard to cause 

and effect we found in Locke's suspicion that a science of 

nature was impossible — impossible because, however often a 

certain ^ idea of quality and substance ' may have followed 

or accompanied another, such sequence or accompaniment 

never amounts to agreement or 'necessary connexion' be^ 

tween the ideas, and therefore never can warrant a general 

assertion, but only the particular one, that the ideas in 

question have so many times occurred 'in such an order. 

* Matters of fact,* however, which no more consist in agree- 
ment of ideas than does causation, are by Locke treated 
without scruple as matter of knowledge when they can be 
regarded as relations between present sensations. Thus the 

* particular experiment * in Physics constitutes knowledge — 
the knowledge, for instance, that a piece of gold is now 
dissolved in aqua regia ; and when ' I myself see a man 
walk on the ice, it is knowledge.' In such cases it does not 
occur to him to ask, either what are the ideas that agree or 
how much of the experiment is a present sensation.' Nor 
does Hume commonly carry his analysis further. After 
admitting that the relations called identity and situation in 
time and place ' do not depend on the nature of the ideas 
related, he proceeds : 'When both the objects are present to 
the senses along with the relation, we call this perception 
rather than reasoning ; nor is there in this case any exercise 
of the thought or any action, properly speaking, but a mere 
passive admission of the impressions through the organs of 
sensation. According to this way of thinking, we ought not 

* P. 372» * Above, §$ 1 22 & 123. 


to receiye as reasoning any of the observations we may make 
concerning identity and the relations of time and fUice ; since 
in none of them tiiie mind can go beyond what is immedi- 
ately present to the senses, either to discoyer the real exist- 
ence or the relations of objects.' ' 

284. This passage points out the way whicb Hume's |^^^5* 
doctrine of causation was to follow. That in any case * the ^^^ from 
mind should go beyond a present feeling, either to discover an obj«t 
the real existence or the relations of objects ' other than ^^em- 
present feelings, was what he could not consistently admit. In beredto 
the judgment of causation, however, it seems to do so. * Prom ^ ^ 
the existence or action of one object,' seen or remembered, it 
seems to be assured of the existence or action of another, not 
seen or remembered, on the ground of a necessary connection 
between the two.' It is such assurance that is reckoned to con- 
stitute reasoning in the distinctive sense of the term, as differ- 
ent at once fix>m the analysis of complex ideas and the simple 
succession of ideas— such reasoning as, in the language of a 
later philosophy, can yield synthetic propositions. WTiat 
Hume has to do, then, is to explain this ' assurance ' away 
by showing that it is not essentially different from that 
judgment of relation in time and place which, because the 
related objects are ' present to the senses along with the 
xelation,' is called ' perception rather than reasoning,' and 
to which no ' exercise of the thought ' is necessary, but a 
' mere passive admission of impressions through the organs 
of sensation.' Nor, for the assimilation of reasoning to 
perception, is anything further needed than a reference to 
the connection of ideas with impressions and of the ideas 
of imagination with those of memory, as originally stated 
by Hume. When both of the objects compared are present 
to the senses, we call the comparison perception; when 
neither, or only one, is so present, we call it reasoning. But 
the difference between the object that is present to sense, 
and that which is not, is merely the difference between im- 
pression and idea, which again is merely the difference be- 
tween the more and the less lively feeling.' To feeling, whether 
with more or with less vivacity, every object, whether of per- 
ception or reasoning, must alike be present. Is it then a 
sufficient accoimt of the matter, according to Hume, to say 
that when we are conscious of contiguity and succession 

' P. 876. • Pp. 876, 384. ■ Pp. 827, 376. 

VOL. I. R 


between objects of which both are impressioiiB we call it 
perception ; but that when both objects are ideas, or one 
an impression and the other an idea, we call it reasoning ? 
Not quite so. Suppose that I * have seen that species of 
object we call flame, and have afterwards felt that species of 
sensation we call heat.* If I afterwards remembered the 
succession of the feeling upon the sight, both objects (ac- 
cording to Hume's original usage of terms ') would be ideas 
as distinct from the impressions; or, if upon seeing the 
flame I remembered the previous experience of heat, one 
object would be an idea ; but we should not reckon it a case 
of reasoning. ' In all cases wherein we reason concerning 
objects, there is only one either perceived or rememberedy and 
the other is supplied in conformity to our past experience ' 
— supplied by the only other faculty than memory that can 
* supply an idea,* viz. imagination.^ 
Relation of 285. This being the only account of ' inference from the 
cwiseMd known to the unknown,' which Hume could consistently 
same as admit, his view of the relation of cause and effect must be 
this trans- adjusted to it. It could not be other than a relation either 
between impression and impression, or between impression 
and idea, or between idea and idea ; and all these relations 
are equally between feelings that we experience. Thus, in- 
stead of being the * objective basis ' on which inference from 
the known to the unknown rests, it is itself the inference ; 
or, more properly, it and the inference alike disappear into a 
particular sort of transition from feeling to feeling. The 
problem, then, is to account for its seeming to be other than 
this. ^ There is nothing in any objects to persuade us that 
they are always remote or always contiguous ; and when from 
experience and observation we discover that the relation in 
this particular is invariable, we always conclude that there 
is some secret cause which separates or unites them.' ' It 
would seem^ then, that the relation of cause and effect is 
something which we infer from experience, from the connec- 
tion of impressions and ideas, but which is not itself im- 
pression or idea. And it would seem farther, that, as we 
infer such an unexperienced relation, so likewise we make 
inferences from it. In regard to identity * we readily sup- 
pose an object may continue individually the same, though 
several times absent from and present to the senses ; and 

» Above, par. 196. « Pp. 384. 888. • P. 376. 


ascribe to it an identity, notwithstanding the interruption 
of the perception, whenever we conclude that if we had 
kept our hand or eye constantly upon it, it would haye 
conveyed an invariable and uninterrupted perception. But 
this conclusion beyond the impressions of our senses can 
be founded only on the connection of cause <md effect ; nor 
can we otherwise have any security that the object is not 
changed upon us, however much the new object may re- 
semble that which was formerly present to the senses.' 

286. This relation which, going beyond our actual ex- Yet seems 
perience, we seem to infer as the explanation of invariable this. Hc»» 
contiguity in place or time of certain impressions, and from this »p- 
which again we seem to infer the identity of an object of STtoTe^ 
which the perception has been interrupted, is what we call explained, 
necessary connection. It is their supposed necessary con- 
nection which distinguishes objects related as cause and effect 

from those related merely in the way of contiguity and suc- 
cession,^ and it is a like supposition that leads us to infer 
what we do not see or remember from what we do. If then 
the reduction of thought and the intelligible world to feeling 
was to be made good, this supposition, not being an im- 
pression of sense or a copy of such, must be shown to be an 
' impression of reflection,' according to Hume's sense of the 
term, i.e. a tendency of the soul, analogous to desire and 
aversion, hope and fear, derived from impressions of sense 
but not copied from them;* and the inference which it de- 
termines must be shown to be the work of imagination, as 
affected by such impression of reflection. This in brief is 
the purport of Hume's doctrine of causation. 

287. After his manner, however, he will go about with his Inference, 
reader. The supposed * objective basis' of knowledge is to "8*»°«o» 
be made to disappear, but in such a way that no one shall tion of 
miss it. So dexterously, indeed, is this done, that perhaps to necessary 
this day the ordinary student of Hume is scarcely conscious to^*ex°°' 
of the disappearance. Hume merely announces to begin plained be- 
with that he will * postpone the direct survey of this question comwction. 
concerning the nature of necessary connection,' and deal first 

with these other two questions, viz. (1) * For what reason we 
pronounce it necessary that everything whose existence has a 
beginning, should also have a cause P' and (2) * Why we 
conclude that such particular causes must necessarily have 

' P. 37«. • Above, par. 195. 

B 2 


such particular eflFects ; and what is the nature of that in- 
ference we draw fipom the one to the other, and of the belief 
we repose in itP ' That is to say, he will consider the in- 
ference from cause or effect, before he considers cause and 
effect as a rekition between objects, on which the inference is 
supposed to depend. Meanwhile necessary connection, as a 
relation between objects, is naturally supposed in some sense 
or other to survive. In what sense, the reader expects to 
find when these two preliminary questions have been an- 
swered. But when they have been answered, necessary con- 
nection, as a relation between objects, turns out to have 
Account of 288. With the first of the above questions Hume only 
^® *°?t^,, concerns himself so far as to show that we cannot know 

6DC6 fflT6]l ^ 

by Locke either intuitively or demonstratively, in Locke's sense of 
wactoi^ the words, that 'everything whose existence has a be- 
ginning also has a cause.' Locke's own argument for the 
necessity of causation — ^that ^ something cannot be produced 
by nothing' — ^as well as Clarke's — ^that *if anything wanted 
a cause it would produce itself, i.e. exist before it existed ' — 
are merely different ways, as Hume shows, of assuming the 
point in question. *If everything must have a cause, it 
follows that upon exclusion of other causes we must accept 
of the object itself, or of nothing, as causes. But 'tis the very 
point in question, whether everything must have a cause or 
not." On that point, according to Locke's own showing, 
there can be no certainty, intuitive or demonstrative; for 
between the idea of beginning to exist and the idea of cause 
there is clearly no agreement, mediate or immediate. They 
are not similar feelings, they are not quantities that can be 
measured against each other, and to these alone can tlie 
definition of knowledge and reasoning, which Hume retained, 
apply. There thus disappears that last remnant of * know- 
ledge ' in regard to nature which Locke had allowed to sur- 
vive — the knowledge that there is a necessary connection, 
though one which we cannot find out.' 
Three 289. Having thus shown, as he conceives, what the tme 

exSained** ^.nswer to the first of the above questions is not, Hume pro- 
in the in- cceds to show what it is by answering the second. * Since it 
pord^ncto ^ °^^ ^^^™ knowledge or any scientific reasoning that we 
Home. derive the opinion of the necessity of a cause to every new 

» P. 382. • Cf. Locke iv. 3, 29, and Introduc, par, 121. 


productioii/ it must be from experience ; ' and every general 
opinion derived from experience is merely the summary of a 
multitude of particular ones. Accordingly when it has been 
explained why we infer particular causes from particular 
effects (and vice verm), the inference from every event to a 
cause will have explained itself. Now * all our arguments 
concerning causes and effects consist both of an impression 
of the memory or senses, and of the idea of that existence 
which produces the object of the impression or is produced 
by it. Here, therefore, we have three things to explain, viz. 
first, the original impression ; secondly, the transition to the 
idea of the connected cause or effect ; thirdly, the nature 
and qualities of that idea.'* 

290. As to the original impression we must notice that a. Theori- 
there is a certain inconsistency with Hume's previous usage 
of terms in speaking of an impression of memory at aU.* L)m which 
This, however, will be excused when we reflect that according t^» ^im- 
to him impi-ession and idea only differ in liveliness, and that m^e!" 
he is consistent in claiming for the ideas of memory, not 
indeed the maximum, but a high degree of vivacity, superior 
to that which belongs to ideas of imagination. All that can 
be said, then, of that ' original impression,' whether of the 
memory or senses, which is necessary to any 'reasoning from 
cause or effect,' is that it is highly vivacious. That the 
transition from it to the ' idea of the counected cause or 
effect ' is not determined by reasq^ . has already been settled. 
It could only be' "so determined/according to the received 
account of reason, if there were some agreement in respect 
of quantity or quality between the idea of cause and that of 
the effect, to be ascertained by the interposition of other 
ideas.^ But when we examine any particular objects that 
we hold to be related as cause and effect, e.g. the sight of 
flame and the feeling of heat, we find no such agreement. 
What we do find is their 'constant conjunction' in experience, 
and ' conjunction ' is equivalent to tibat * contiguity in time 
and place,' which has already been pointed out as one of 
those ^ natural relations ' which act as * principles of union ' 
between ideas.* Because the impression of fiame has always h. The 
been found to be followed by the impression of heat, the idea tmnsitioB 

> p. 888. * Cf. Locke it. 17, 2. 

> P. 885. * Above, par. 206. 
* Above, par. 196. 


lo infemd of flame olwajs suggests the idea of heat. It is simple 
^^ custom then that determines the transition from the one to 

the other, or renders 'necessary' the connection between 
them. In order that the transition, however, may constitute 
an inference from cause to effect (or vice versd)^ one of the 
two objects thus naturally related, but not both, must be 
presented as an impression. If both were impressions it 
would be a case of ' sensation, not reasoning ; ' if both were 
ideas, no belief would attend the transition. This brings 
us to the question as to the ' nature and qualities ' of the 
inferred idea, 
e. The 2')!. *'TiB evident that all reasonings from causes or effects 

2Ju idel*^ terminate in conclusions concerning matter of fact, t. e. con- 
cerning the existence of objects or of their qualities ' ; ' in 
other words, in belief. If this meant a new idea, an idea 
that we have not previously had, it would follow that infer- 
ence could really carry us beyond sense, that there could be 
an idea not copied from any prior impression^ But according 
to Hume it does not mean this. ' The idea of existence is the 
very same with the idea of what we conceive to be existent ; '* 
and not only so, * the belief of existence joins no new ideas to 
those which compose the idea of the object. When I think 
of God, when I think of him as existent, and when I believe 
him to be existent, my idea of him neither increases nor 
diminishes.' * In what then lies the difference between in* 
credulity and belief; between an 'idea assented to,' or an 
object believed to exist, and a fictitious object or idea from 
which we dissent P The answer is, ' not in the parts or com- 
position of the idea, but in the manner of conceiving it,' 
which must be understood to mean the manner of * feeling ' 
it; and this difference is further explained to lie in Hhe su- 
perior force, or vivacity, or steadiness ' with which it is felt/ 
We are thus brought to the farther question, how it is that 
this * superior vivacity ' belongs to the inferred idea when 
we ' reason ' from cause to effect or from effect to cause. 
The answer here is that the * impression of the memory or 
senses,' which in virtue of a ' natural relation ' suggests the 
idea, also ' communicates to it a share of its force or vivacity.' 
It results 292. Thus it appears that in order to the conclusion that 
that neces- g^^y particular cause must have any particular effect, there is 

' p. 394. * P. 398. Gil abore, par. 170, for 

' P. 370. the coirespoodiiig view in Berkalejr. 

• P. 396. 


needed first the presence of an impression , and secondly the nection ii 
joint action of those two * principles^ ofj mion amongj deag/ ^™f"*' 
resembl ance an d contignitT. . Tnratueof the former principle reflection, 
the given impression calls up the image of a like impression i-«» * P"*" 
previously experienced, which again in virtue of the latter the traM- 
calls up the image of its usual attendant, and the liveliness ^*'°'^.^, 
of the given impression so communicates itself to the recalled 
ideas as to constitute belief in their existence. If this is the 
true account of the matter, the question as to the nature of 
necessary connexion has answered itself* *The necessary 
connexion betwixt causes and effects is the foundation of our 
inference from one to the other. The foundation of the in- 
ference is the transition arising from the accustomed union. 
These are therefore the same.^ ' We may thus understand 
how it is that there seems to be an idea of such connexion to 
which no impression of the senses, or (to use an equivalent 
phrase of Hume's) no * quality in objects ' corresponds. If 
the first presentation of two objects, of which one is cause, 
the other effect, (i. e. of which we afterwards come to con- 
sider one the cause, the other the effect) gives no idea of a 
connexion between them, as it clearly does not, neither can 
it do so however often repeated. It would not do so, unless 
the repetition * either discovered or produced something new * 
in the objects ; and it does neither. But it does * produce a 
new impression in the mind.* After observing a * constant 
conjunction of the objects, and an uninterrupted resemblance 
of their relations of contiguity and succession, we immedi- 
ately feel a determination of the mind to pass from one of 
the objects to its usual attendant, and to conceive it in a 
stronger light on account of that relation.' It is of this 
Jmpression,' this * propensity which custom pro- 
duces,' thaTffieiSea of necessary connexion is the copy.' 

293. The sequence of ideas, which thispropensity deter- The tranfe- 
mines, clearly does not involve any inference * beyond sense,' j^^^^jj^^*^ 
' from the known to the unknown,' ^ from instances of which beyond 
we have had experience, to those of which we have had none,' ^®'"®« 
any more than does any other * recurrence of an idea ' — which, 
as we have seen, merely means, according to Hume, the re- 
turn of a feeling at a lower level of intensity after it has been 
felt at a higher. The idea which we speak of as an inferred 
cause or effect is only an ^ instance of which we have no ex- 

» P. 460. » Pp. 457-460. 


perieBoe ' in the sense of being numericaUy differmJt from tlie 
similar ideas, whose previous constant association with an 
impression like the given one, determines the ' inference ; ' 
bat in the same sense the * impression ' which I now feel on 
putting my hand to the fire is different from the impressions 
previously felt under the same circumstances, and I do not 
for that reason speak of this impression as an instance of 
which I have had no experience. Thus Hume, though re- 
taining the received phraseology in reference to the ' conclu- 
sion from any particular cause to any particular effect ' — 
phraseology which implies that prior to the inference the 
object inferred is in some sense unknown or unexperienced — 
yet deprives it of meaning by a doctrine which makes infer- 
ence, as he himself puts it, ^ a species of sensation,' ' an un- 
intelligible instinct of our souls,' ' more properly an act of 
the sensitive than of the cogitative part of our natures ' ' — 
which in tsjct leaves no ^ part of our natures ' to be cogitative 
at alL 
Nor d0ter> 294. We are not entitied then, it would seem, to say that any 
mined by inference to matter of fact, any proof of an ^instructive pro- 
objecHye position,' — as distinct from tiie conclusion of a syllogism, 
relAtiou. which is simply derived from the analysis of a proposition 
already conceded, — ^rests on the relation of cause and effect. 
Such language implies that the relation is other than the 
jgt CTence , whereas, in fact, they are one and the same, each 
being merely a particular sort of sequence of feeling upon 
feeling — that sort of which the characteristic is that, when 
the former feeling only has the maximum of vivacity, it still, 
owing to the frequency with which it has been attended by the 
other, imparts to it a large, though less, amount of vivacity. 
This is the naked result to which Hume's doctrine leads — a 
result which, thus put, might have set men upon reconsidering 
the first principles of the Lockeian philosophy. But he wished 
to find acceptance, and would not so put it. A consider- 
ation of the points in which he had to sacrifice consistency 
to plausibility — since he was always consistent where he de- 
centiy could be — will lead us to the true aXriov rov ^n;Sot)», 
the impossibility on his principles of explaining the world 
of knowledge. 
Deflnitioni 295. As the outcome of his doctrine, he submits two 
of wue. definitions of the relation of cause and effect. Considering 

1 Pp. 404, 475. and 471. 


it as ' a philosophical relation or comparisoii of two ide as^ a. Ab a 
"we may define a cause to be an object precedent and con- * ^^^f^ 
tigaous to another, and where all objects resembling the reUtiom 
former are placed in like relations of precedencj and con- 
tiguity to those objec ts that resemble the latter.' Consider- 
ing the relation as ^a natwral one, or as an association 
between ideas^' we may say that *a cause is an object 
precedent and contiguous to another, and so united with it 
that the idea of one determines the mind to form the idea 
of the other, and the impression of the one to form a more 
lively idea of the other/ * 

296. Our first enquiry must be how far these definitions la Hume 
are really consistent with the theory firom which they are ^^^ ^ 
derived. At the outset, it is a surprise to find that the *phiio- 
* philosophical relation ' of cause and e£fect, as distinct from •optical' 

. r^ J 1 1 n J -ii 1 . « -I relations 

the natural one, should still appear to survive. Such a asdlBtinct 
distinction has no meaning unless it implies a conceived f^°^ 
relation of objects other than the de facto sequence of 
feelings, of which one * naturally ' introduces the other. It 
is the characteristic of Locke's doctrine of knowledge that 
in it this distinction is still latent. His language constantly 
implies that knowledge, as a perception of relations, is other 
than the sequence of feelings ; but by confining his view 
chiefiy to relation in the way of likeness and unlikeness — a 
relation that exists between feelings merely as felt, or as they 
are for the feeling consciousness — he avoids the necessity of 
deciding what the ' ideas ' are in the connection of which 
knowledge and reasoning consist, whether objects consti- 
tuted by conceived relations or feelings suggestive of each 
other. But when once attention had been fixed, as it was 
by Hume, on an ostensible relation between objects, like 
that of cause and effect, which, if it exist at all, is clearly not 
one in the way of resemblance between feelings, the distinc- 
tion spoken of becomes patent. If the colour red had not the 
likeness and unlikeness which it has to the colour blue, the 
colours would be different feelings from what they are ; but 
if the flame of fire and its heat were not regarded severally as 
cause and effect, it would make no difference to them as 
feelings ; or, to put it conversely, it is not upon any com- 
parison of two feelings with each other that we regard them 
as related in the way of cause and effect. In what seuse 

> P. 464. 



tion of 

consists in 
a com- 
but no 
cause and 

ihen can the relation between, flame and heat be a philo- 
sophical relation, as defined by Hnme — ^a relation in Tirtae 
of which we compare objects, or an idea that we acqnire 
upon comparison 9 

297. This definition, indeed, is not stated so exactly or so 
nniformly as might be wished. In different passages ^philo- 
sophical relation ' appears as that in respect of which we 
compare any two ideas ; as that of whicdi we acqnire the 
idea by comparing objects,' and finally (in the context of the 
passage last quoted) as itself the comparison.* The real 
source of this ambiguity lies in that impossibiliiy of regard- 
ing an object as anything apart from its relations, which 
compels any theory that does not recognize it to be incon- 
sistent with itself. It is Locke's cardinal doctrine that real 
* objects * are first given as simple ideas, and that their 
relations, unreal in contrast with the simple ideas, are 
superinduced by the mind — a doctrine which Hume com- 
pletes by excluding all ideas that are not either copies of 
simple feelings or compounds of these, and by consequence 
ideas of relation altogether. The three statements of the 
nature of philosophical relation, given above, mark three 
stages of departure from, or approach to, consistency with 
this doctrine. The first, implying as it does that relation is 
not merely a subjective result in our minds from the com- 
parison of ideas, but belongs to the ideas themselves, is most 
obviously inconsistent with it according to the form in which 
it is presented by Locke ; but the second is equally incom- 
patible with Hume's completion of the doctrine, for it implies 
that we so compare ideas as to acquire an idea of relation 
other than the ideas put together — an idea at once open to 
Hume's own challenge, ^ Is it a colour, sound, smell, &c.; or 
is it a passion or emotion P ' 

298. We are thus brought to the third statement, ac- 
cording to which philosophical relation, instead of being 
an idea acquired upon comparison, is itself the compari- 
son. A comparison of ideas may seem not far removed 
from the simple sequence of resembling ideas ; but if we 
examine the definition of cause, as stated above, which 
with Hume corresponds to the view of the relation of cause 
and effect as a ^ pMlosophical ' one, we find that the relation 
in question is neither a comparison of the related objects 

» Cf. Part I. 6. » P. 464. 


nor an idea which arises upon such comparison. According i 

to his statement a comparison is indeed necessary to give ns 
an idea of the relation — a comparison, however, not of 
the objects which we reckon severally cause and effect with 
each other, but (a) of each of the two objects with other | 

like objects, and {h) of the relation of precedency and con- -I 

tiguity between the two objects with that previously observed ' 

between the like objects. Now, unless the idea of relation I 

between objects in the way of cause and effect is one that I 

consists in, or is acquired by, comparison of those oljects, the I 

fiEU^ that another sort of comparison is necessary to consti- 
tute it does not touch the question of its possibility. How- 
ever we come to have it, however reducible to impressions 
the objects may be, it is not only other than the idea of 
either object taken singly ; it is not, as an idea of resem- 
blance might be supposed to be, constituted by the joint 
presence or immediate sequence upon each other of the 
objects. Here, then, is an idea which is not taken either 
from an impression or from a compound of impressions (if 
such composition be possible), and this idea is ' the source of 
all our reasonings concerning matters of fact.' 

299. The modem followers of Hume may perhaps seek rphe oom- 
refuge in the consideration that though the relation of cause parison U 
and effect between objects is not one in the way of resem- ^Jj^ 
blance or one of which the idea is given by comparison of the and pMi 
objects, it yet results from comparisons, which may be sup- ^^^j^ 
posed to act like chemical substances whose combination sion of ob- 
produces a substance with properties quite different from J^^* 
those of the combined substances, whether taken separately 
or together. Some anticipation of such a solution, it may be 
said, we find in Hume himself, who is aware that from the 
repetition of impressions of seuse and their ideas new, hetero- 
geneous, impressions — ^those of * reflection * — are formed. Of 
this more will be said when we come to Hume's treatment of 
cause and effect as a 'natural relation.' For the present we 
have to enquire what exactly is implied in the comparisons 
from which this heterogeneous idea of relation is derived. 
If we look closely we shall find that they presuppose a con- 
sciousness of relations as little reducible to resemblance, i. e. 
as little the result of comparison, as that of cause and effect 
itself. It has been already noticed how Hume treats the 
judgment of proportion between figures as a mere affair of 


tion of 
goes be- 
yond sense. 

sense, because such relation depends entirely on the ideas 
compared, without reflecting that the existence of the figures 
presupposes those relations of space to which, because (as he 
admits) they do not depend on the comparison of ideas, the 
only excuse for reckoning any relation sensible does not ap* 
ply. In the same way he contents himself with the fact that 
the judgment of cause and effect implies a comparison of 
present with past experience, and may thus be brought under 
his definition of ^ philosophical relation,' without observing 
that the experiences compared are themselves by no means 
reducible to comparison. We judge that an object, which 
we now find to be precedent and contiguous to another, is its 
cause when, comparing present experience with past, we find 
that it always has been so. That in effect is Hume's account 
of the relation, ^ considered as a philosophical one : ' and it 
implies that the constitution of the several experiences com* 
pared involves two sorts of relation which Hume admits not 
to be derived from comparison, (a) relation in time and place, 
(6) relation in the way of identity. 

800. As to relations in time and space, we have already 
traced out the inconsistencies which attend Hume's attempt 
to represent them as compound ideas. The statement at the 
beginning of Part iii., that they are relations not dependent 
on the nature of compared ideas, is itself a confession that 
such representation is erroneous. If the difficulty about the 
synthesis of successive feelings in a consciousness that con- 
sists merely of the succession could be overcome, we might 
admit that the putting together of ideas might constitute 
such an idea of relation as depends on the nature of the com* 
bined ideas. But no combination of ideas can yield a relation 
which remains the same while the ideas change, and changes 
while they remain the same. Thus, when Hume tells us that 
* in none of the observations we may make concerning rela- 
tions of time and place can the mind go beyond what is 
immediately present to the senses, to discover the relations 
of objects,' ^ the statement contradicts itself. Either we can 
make no observation concerning relation in time and place 
at aU, or in making it we already ^ go beyond what is im- 
mediately present to the senses,' since we observe what is 
neither a feeling nor several feelings put together. If then 
Hume had succeeded in his reduction of reasoning from 

> P. 376. 


caase or effect to obseryation of this kind, as modified in a 
certain way by habit, the purpose for which the reduction is 
attempted would not have been attained. The separation 
between perception and inference, between * intuition ' and 
* discourse,* would have been got rid of, but inference and 
discourse would not therefore have been brought nearer to 
the mere succession of feelings, for the separation between 
feeling and perception would remain complete; and that 
being so, the question would inevitably recur — If the * obser- 
vation' of objects as related in space and time already 
involves a transition from the felt to the unfelt, what greater 
difficulty is there about the interpretation of a feeling as a 
change to be accounted for (which is what is meant by infer- 
ence to a cause), that we should do violence to the sciences 
by reducing it to repeated observation lest it should seem 
that in it we * go beyond ' present feeling? 

801. Belation in the way of identity is treated by Hume ABalso 
in the third part of the Treatise* pretty much as he treats f^ ^« 
contiguity and distance. He admits that it does not depend tion con- 
on the nature of any ideas so related — in other words, that c&mmg ^ 
it is not constituted by feelings as they would be for a merely \rhUAi tU 
feeling consciousness — ^yet he denies that the mind * in any co»a.- 
observations we may make concerning it' can go beyond f^l^JJi, 
what is immediately present to the senses. Directly after- 
wards, however, we find that there is a judgment of identity 
which involves a * conclusion beyond the impressions of our 
taenses ' — ^the judgment, namely, that an object of which the 
perception is interrupted continues individually the same 
notwithstanding the interruption. Such a judgment, we are 
told, is a supposition founded only on the connection of cause 
and effect. How any * observation concerning identity * can 
be made without it is not there explained, and, pending such 
explanation, observations concerning identity are freely taken 
for granted as elements given by sense in the experience 
from which the judgment of cause and effect is derived. In 
the second chapter of Part iv., however, where * belief in 
an external world ' first comes to be explicitly discussed by 
Hume, we find that ^ propensities to feign ^ are as necessary 
to account for the judgment of identity as for that of ne- 
cessary connection. If that chapter had preceded, instead of 
following, the theory of cause and effect as given in Part in., 

> p. 376. 



Identitj of 
objects an 
able cniz 
for Home. 

His ac- 
count of it 

the latter would have seemed much less plain sailing than 
to most readers it has done. It is probably because nothing 
corresponding to it appears in that later redaction of his 
theory by which Hume sought popular acceptance, that the 
true suggestiveness of his speci:dation was ignored, and the 
scepticism, which awakened Eant, reduced to the common- 
places of inductive logic. To examine its purport is the next 
step to be taken in the process of testing the possibility of a 
* natural history * of knowledge. Its bearing on the doctrine 
of cause will appear as we proceed. 

802. The problem of identity necessarily arises &om the 
fusion of reality and feeling. We must once again recall 
the propositions in which Hume represents this fusion — that 
' everything which enters the mind is both in reality and 
appearance as the perception;' that 'so far as the senses 
are judges, all perceptions are the same in the manner of 
their existence ; ' that 'perceptions' are either impressions, 
or ideas which are ' fainter impressions ; ' and ' impressions 
are internal and perishing existences, and appear as such.' 
If these propositions are true — and the ' new way of ideas ' 
inevitably leads to them — ^how is it that we believe in * a con- 
timied existence of objects even when they are not present to 
the senses,' and an existence ' distinct from the mind and 
perception'? They are the same questions from which 
Berkeley derived his demonstration of an eternal mind — a 
demonstration premature because, till the doctrine of * ideas,' 
and of mind as their subject, had been definitely altered in a 
way that Berkeley did not attempt, it was explaining a belief 
difficult to account for by one wholly unaccountable. Before 
Theism could be exhibited with the necessity which Locke 
claimed for it, it was requisite to try what could be done 
with association of ideas and 'propensities to feign* in the 
way of accounting for the world of knowledge, in order that 
upon their failure another point of departure than Locke's 
might be found necessary. The experiment was made by 
Hume. He has the merit, to begin with, of stating the 
nature of identity with a precision which we found wanting 
in Locke. ' In that proposition, an object is the same ivith 
itself, if the idea expressed by the word object were no ways 
distinguished from that meant by itself, we really should 
mean nothing.' ' On the other hand, a multiplicity of objects 
can never convey the idea of identity, however resenbling 


they may 'be supposed. • . . Since then both number 
and xmity are incompatible with the relation of identity, it 
must lie in something that is neither of them. But at first 
sight this seems impossible.' The explanation is that when 
^ we say that an object is the same with itself, we mean that 
the object existent at one time is the same with itself existent 
at another. By this means we make a difference betwixt the 
idea meant by the word object and that meant by itself with- 
out going the length of number, and at the same time with* 
out restraining ourselves to a strict and absolute unity.' In 
other words, identity means the unity of a thing through a 
multiplicity of times ; or, as Hume puts it, ' the inyariable- 
ness and uninterruptedness of any object through a supposed 

variation of time. ' * ^/ 

303. Now that ' an object exists ^ can with Hume mean nOHEVoperlj 
more than that an * impression * is felt, and without sue- 7^^ ^*™ 
cession of feelings according to him there is no time.' It fiction, in 
follows that unity in the existence of the object, being in- *^® ^^^ 
compatible with sticcession of feelings, is incompatible also haye no 
with existence in time. Either then the unity of the object snch idea. 
or its existence at manifold times—both being involved in 
the conception of identity — ^must be a fiction ; and since ' all 
impressions are perishing existences,' perishing vrith a turn 
of the head or the eyes, it cannot be doubted which it is that 
is the fiction. That the existence of an object, which we 
call the same with itself, is broken by as many intervals of 
time as there are successive and diflFerent, however resembling, 

* perceptions,' must be the fact ; that it should yet be one 
throughout the- intervals is a fiction to be accounted for. 
Hume accounts for it by supposing that when the separate 

* perceptions ' have a strong * natural relation ' to each other 
in the way of resemblance, the transition from one to the 
other is so ^ smooth and easy ' that we are apt to take it for 
the * same disposition of mind with which we consider one 
constant and uninterrupted perception ; ' and that, as a con- 
sequence of this mistake, we make the farther one of taking 
the successive resembling perceptions for an identical, i.e. 
uninterrupted as well as invariable object.* But we cannot Yet he im 
mistake one object for another unless we have an idea of that pl*** ^^^ 
other object. If then we * mistake the succession of our ^chidea, 

' Pp. 489, 490. perceptions, we have no notion of time.* 

* • Wherever we have no snccessive (p. 342). • P. 492. 


ID sajiDg 
that we 

of like 
for an 
object : but 

feelings, as 
are already 

interrupted perceptions for an identical object,' it follows 
that we have an idea of such an object— of a thing one with 
itself throughout the succession of impressions — an idea 
which can be a copy neither of any one of the impressions 
nor, even if successive impressions could put themselves 
together, of all so put together. Such an idea being accord- 
ing to Hume's principles impossible, the appearance of our 
having it was the fiction he had to account for ; and he ac- 
counts for it, as we find, by a ^ habit of mind ' which already 
presupposes it. His procedure here is just the same as in 
dealing with the idea of vacuum. In that case, as we saw, 
having to account for the appearance of there being the im- 
possible idea of pure space, he does so by showing, that having 
* an idea of distance not filled with any coloured or tangible 
object,' we mistake this for an idea of extension, and hence 
suppose that the latter may be invisible and intangible. He 
thus admits an idea, virtually the same with the one ex- 
cluded, as the source of the * tendency to suppose ' which is 
to replace the excluded idea. So in his account of identity. 
Either the habit, in virtue of which we convert resembling 
perceptions into an identical object, is what Hume admits to 
be a contradiction, 'a habit acquired by what was never 
present to the mind ; ' ' or the idea of identity must be present 
toihe mind in order to render the habit possible. 

304. The device by which this petitio prindpii is covered 
is one already familiar to us in Hume. In this case it is so 
palpable that it is difficult to believe he was unconscious of 
it. As he has * to account for the belief of the vulgar with 
regard to the existence of body,' he will * entirely conform 
himself to their manner of thinking and expressing them- 
selves ; ' in other words, he will assume the fiction in question 
a« the beginning of a process by which its formation is to be 
accounted for. The vulgar make no distinction between 
thing and appearance. * Those very sensations which enter 
by the eye or ear are with them the true objects, nor can they 
readily conceive that this pen or this paper, which is im- 
mediately perceived, represents another which is different 
from, but resembling it. In order therefore to accommodate 
myself to their notions, I shall at first suppose that there is 
only a single existence, which I shall call indifferently object 
ajid perception, according as it shall seem best tp suit my 

> P. 487. 


purpose, understanding by both of them what any common 
man may mean by a hat, or shoe, or stone, or any other im- 
pression conveyed to him by his senses/ ^ Now it is of course 
true that the vulgar are innocent of the doctrine of repre- 
sentative ideas. They do not suppose that this pen or this 
paper, which is immediately perceived, represents another 
which is difiPerent from, but resembling, it; but neither do 
they suppose that this pen or this paper is a sensation. It 
is the intellectual transition from this, that, and the other suc- 
cessive sensations to this pen or this paper, as the identical 
object to which the sensations are referred as qualities, that 
is unaccountable if, according to Hume's doctrine, the suc- 
cession of feelings constitutes our consciousness. In the pas- 
sage quoted he quietly ignores it, covering his own reduction 
of felt thing to feeling under the popular identification of 
the real thing with the perceived. With * the vulgar ' that 
which is * immediately perceived * is the real thing, just be- 
cause it is not the mere feeling which with Hume it is. But 
under pretence of provisionally adopting the vulgar view, he 
entitles himself to treat the mere feeling, because according 
to him it is that which is immediately perceived, as if it were 
the permanent identical thing, which according to the vulgar 
is what is immediately perceived. 

305. Thus without professedly admitting into conscious- Fiction of 
ness anything but the succession of feelings he gets such in- j^®°M^y_ 
dividual objects as Locke would have called objects of ^ actual piied as 
present sensation.' When * I survey the furniture of my »?«^® ^f 
chamber,' according to him, I see sundry * identical objects ' — peL^ty" 
this chair, this table, this inkstand, &c.* So fiir there is no ▼Wch is to 
fiction to be accounted for. It is only when, having left my ^^^ ^ 
chamber for an interval and returned to it, I suppose the 
objects which I see to be identical with those I saw before, 
that the ' propensity to feign ' comes into play, which has to 
be explained as above. But in fact the original ^survey' 
during which, seeing the objects, I suppose them to continue 
the same with themselves, involves precisely the same fiction. 
In that case, says Hume, I * suppose the change ' (which is ne- 
cessary to constitute the idea of identity) ^ to lie only in the 
time.' But without * succession of perceptions,' difiPerent 
however resembling, there could according to him be no 
change of time. The continuous surve y of thi s table, or this 

•P. 491. ^^^^i^ii^HA^ 

VOL.1. 8 ftTNl-El 

or y 



of per- 
a fiction 
from their 

chair, then, inTolres the notion of its remaining the same 
with itself thionghout a saccession of different perceptions — 
i.e. the foil-grown fiction of identity — jnst as much as does 
the supposition that the table I see now is identical with the 
one I saw before. The ' realitj/ confusion with which of * a 
smooth passage along resembling ideas * is supposed to con- 
stitute the * fiction/ is already itself the fiction — ^the fiction 
of an object which must be other than our feelings, since it 
is permanent while they are successire, yet so related to them 
that in yirtue of reference to it, instead of being merely differ- 
ent from each other, they become changes of a thing. 

306. Having thus in effect imported all three ^ fictions of 
imagination ' — identity, continued existence, and existence 
distinct from perception — into the original 'perception,* 
Hume, we may think, might have saved himself the trouble 
of treating tiiem as separate and successive formations. 
Unless he had so treated them, however, his 'natural 
history ' of consciousness would have been tax less imposing 
than it is. The device, by which he represents the ' vulgar ' 
belief in the reality of the felt thing as a belief that the 
mere feeling is the real object, enables him also to represent 
the identity, which a smooth transition along closely resem- 
bling sensations leads us to suppose, as still merely identity of 
2kperc^iion. * The very image which is present to the senses 
is with us the real body; and 'tis to these interrupted images 
we ascribe a perfect identity.' * The identity lying thus in 
the images or appearances, not in anything to which they 
are referred, a further fiction seems to be required by which 
we may overcome the contradiction between the interruption 
of the appearances and their identity — ^the fiction of 'a con- 
tinued being which may 'fill the intervals ' between the 
appearances.' That a ' propension ' towards such a fiction 
would naturally arise firom the uneasiness caused by such a 
contradiction^ we may readily admit. The question is how 
the propension can be satisfied by a supposition which is 
merely another expression for one of the contradictory 
beliefs. What difference is there between the appearance 
of a perception and its existence, that interruption of the 
perception, though incompatible with uninterruptedness in 
its appearance, should not be so with uninterruptedness in 
its existence 9 It may be answered that there is just the 

* P. 493. ' F^. 494, 49& 


difiPerence between relation to a feeling subject and relation Can per- 
to a thinking one — between relation to a consciousness g^^srwhen 
which is in time, or successive, and relation to a thinking Qot ppr- 
subject which, not being itself in time, is the source of that ceWed? 
determination by permanent conditions, which is what is 
meant bj the real existence of a perceived thing. But to 
Home, who expressly excludes such a subject — with whom 
4t exists ' = *it is felt' — such an answer is inadmissible. He 
can, in fact, only meet the difficulty by supposing the exist- 
ence of unfelt feelings, of unperceived perceptions. The 
appearance of a perception is its presence to ^ what we call 
a mind,' which ^ is nothing but a heap or collection of dif- 
ferent perceptions, united together by certain relations, and 
supposed, though falsely, to be endowed with a perfect 
simplicity and identity.' ^ To consider a perception, then, 
as existing though not appearing is merely to consider it as 
detached from this * heap ' of other perceptions, which, on 
Hume's principle that whatever is distinguishable is separ- 
able, is no more impossible than to distinguish one percep- 
tion from all others.* In fact, however, it is obvious that the 
supposed detaohment is the very opposite of such distinction. 
A perception distinguished from all others is determined by 
that distinction in the fullest possible measure. A percep- 
tion detached from all others, left out of the ^heap which we 
call a mind,' being out of all relation, has no qualities — is 
simply nothing. We can no more * consider ' it than we 
can see vacancy. Yet it is by the consideration of such 
nonentity, by supposing a world of unperceived perceptions, 
of * existences ' without relation or quality, that the mind, 
according to Hume — ^itself only * a heap of perceptions ' — 
arrives at that fiction of a continued being which, as in- 
volved in the supposition of identity, is the condition of our 
believing in a world of real things at all. 

S07. It is implied, then, in the process by which, accord- Existence 
ing to Hume, the fiction of a continued being is arrived at, distinct^' 
that this being is supposed to be not only continued but from per- 
* distinct from the mind ' and ' independent ' of it. With ^^ ^w*' * 
Hume, however, the supposition of a distinct and ^ independ- fiction stUL 
ent ' existence of the perception is quite different from that of 
a distinct and independent object other than the perception. 
The former is the ^vulgar hypothesis,' and though a fiction, 

■ P. 406. « Ibid. 




Are these 





from each 


it is also a universal belief: the latter is the 'philosophical 
hypothesis,' which, if it has a tendescj to obtain belief at 
all, at any rate derives that tendency, in other words * ac- 
quires all its influence over the imagination,' from the vulgar 
one.^ Just as the belief in the independent and continued 
existence of perceptions results from an instinctive effort 
to escape the uneasiness, caused by the contradiction between 
the interruption of resembling perceptions and their imagined 
identity, so the contradiction between this belief and the 
evident dependence of all perceptions * on our organs and the 
disposition of our nerves and animal spirits ' leads to the doc- 
trine of representative ideas or ' the double existence of per- 
ceptions and objects.' * This philosophical system, therefore, is 
the moDstrous offspring of two principles which are contrary 
to each other, which are both at once embraced by the mind 
and which are unable mutually to destroy each other. The 
imagination tells us that our resembling perceptions have a 
continued and uninterrupted existence, and are not anni- 
hilated by their absence. Reflection tells us that even our 
resembling perceptions are interrupted in their existence 
and different from each other. The contradiction betwixt 
these opinions we elude by a new fiction which is conformable 
to the hypotheses both of reflection and fiwicy, by ascribing 
these contrary qualities to different existences; the inter- 
ruption to perceptions, and the continuance to objects J ^ 

808. Here, again, we find that the contradictoiy an- 
nouncements, which it is the object of this new fiction to 
elude, are virtually the same as those implied in that judg- 
ment of identity which is necessary to the * perception ' of 
this pen or this paper. That ' interruption of our resembling 
perceptions,' of which * reflection ' (in the immediate context 
^Season') is here said to ^tell us,' is merely that difference in 
time, or succession, which Hume everywhere else treats as a 
datum of sense, and which, as he points out, is as necessary 
a factor in the idea of identity, as is the imagination of an 
existence continued throughout the succession. Thus the 
contradiction, which suggests this philosophical fiction of 
double existence, has been already present and overcome in 
every perception of a qualified object. Nor does the fiction 
itself, by which the contradiction is eluded, differ except 
verbally firom that suggested by the contradiction between 


« P. 602. 


the interruption and the identity of perceptions. What 
power is there in the word * object' that the supposition of 
an unperceived existence of perceptions, continued while their 
appearance is broken, should be an unavoidable fiction of the 
imagination, while that of ^ the doable existence of percep- 
tions and objects ' is a gratuitous fiction of philosophers, of 
which * vulgar * thinking is entirely innocent ? 

809. That it is gratuitous we may readily admit, but only Are they 
because a recognition of the function of the Ego in the "oWodi*"** 


primary constitution of the qualified individual object— this the sim- 
pen or this paper — renders it superfluous. To the philosophy, P^®^ P^f" 
however, in which Hume was bred, the perception of a quali- 
fied object was simply a feeling. No intellectual synthesis of 
successive feelings was recognized as involved in it. It wa-s 
only so far as the dependence of the feeling on our organs, in 
the absence of any clear distinction between feeling and felt 
thing, seemed to imply a dependent and broken existence of 
the thing, that any difficulty arose — a difficulty met by the 
supposition that tiie felt thing, whose existence was thus 
broken and dependent, represented an unfelt and permanent 
thing of which it is a copy or effect. To the Berkeleian ob- 
jections, already fatal to this supposition, Hume has his own 
to add, viz. that we can have no idea of relation in the way 
of cause and effect except as between objects which we have 
observed, and therefore can have no idea of it as existing 
between a perception and an object of which we can only say 
that it is not a perception. Is all existence then ' broken 
and dependent' ? That is the * sceptical * conclusion which 
Hume professes to adopt — subject, however, to the condition 
of accounting for the contrary supposition (without which, 
as he has to admit, we could not thinker speak, and which 
alone gives a meaning to his own phraseology about impres- 
sions and ideas) as a fiction of the imagination. He does 
this, as we have seen, by tracing a series of contradictions, 
with corresponding hypotheses invented, either instinctively 
or upon reflection, in order to escape the uneasiness which 
they cause, all ultimately due to our mistaking similar suc- 
cessive feelings for an identical object. Of such an object, 
then, we must have an idea to begin with, and it is an object 
permanent throughout a variation of time, which means a 
succession of feelings ; in other words, it is a felt thing, as 
distinct from feelings but to which feelings are referred as 



its qualities. Thus the most primary perception — that in 
default of which Hume would have no reality to oppose to 
fiction, nor any point of departure for the supposed construc- 
tion of fictions — already implies that transformation of feel- 
ings into changing relations of a thing which, preventing 
any incompatibility between the perpetual brokenness of the 
feeling and the permanence of the thing, ^ eludes ' by antici- 
pation all the contradictions which, according to Hume, we 
only ^ elude 'by speaking as if we had ideas that we have not. 
Yet they ^lO. * Ideas that we have not ;' for no one of the fictions by 
are not which we elude the contradictions, nor indeed any one of the 
^eas he- Contradictory judgments themselves, can be taken to repre- 
caoM sent an ' idea ' according to Hume's account of ideas. He 

f^mno allows himself indeed to speak of our having ideas of iden- 
impres- tical objects, such as this table while I see or Umcli ii — though 
in this case, as has been shown, either the object is not 
identical or the idea of it cannot be copied from an impres- 
sion — and of our transferring this idea to resembling but 
interrupted perceptions. But the supposition to which the 
conti*adiction involved in this transference gives rise — the 
supposition that the perception continues to exist when it is 
not perceived — is shown by the very statement of it to be 
no possible copy of an impression. Yet according to Hume it 
is a ^ belief,' and a belief is * a lively idea associated with a 
present impression.' What then is the impression and what 
the associated idea? 'As the propensity to feign the con- 
tinued existence of sensible objects arises from some lively 
impressions of the memory, it bestows a vivacity on that 
fiction ; or, in other words, makes us believe the continued 
existence of body.' * Well and good : but this only answers 
the first part of our question. It tells us what are the im- 
pressions in the supposed case of belief, but not what is the 
associated idea to which their liveliness is communicated. 
To say that it arises firom a propensity to feign, strong in 
proportion to the liveliness of the supposed impressions of 
memory, does not tell us of what impression it is a copy. 
Such a propensity indeed would be an * impression of reflec- 
tion,' but the fiction itself is neither the propensity nor a 
copy of it. The only possible supposition left for Hume 
would be that it is a 'compound idea ;' but what combination 

■ P. 406. 


of ' perceptions ' can amount to the existence of perceptions 
when they are not perceived P 

311. From this long excursion into Hume*s doctrine of Com- 
relation in the way of identity — having found him admitting pn-rison of 
explicitly that it is only by a * fiction of the imagination * experience 
that we identify this table as now seen with this table as ^jth past, 
seen an hour ago, and implicitly that the same fiction is in- yields 
volved in the perception of this table as an identical object relation 
even when hand or eye is kept upon it, while yet he says and effbct, 
not a word to vindicate the possibility of such a fiction for pre- 
a faculty which can merely reproduce and combine * perish- f^^^e^t 
ing impressions' — we return to consider its bearing upon of identity 
his doctrine of relation in the way of cause and eflFect. Ac- 
cording to him, as we saw,^ that relation, < considered as 
a philosophical * one, is founded on a comparison of present 
experience with past, in the sense that we regard an object, 
precedent and contiguous to another, as its cause when all 
like objects have been found similarly related. The question 
then arises whether the experiences compared — the present 
and the past alike — do not involve the fiction of identity 
along with the whole family of other fictions which Hume 
affiliates to it? Does the relation of precedence and sequence, 
which, if constant, amounts to that of cause and effect, 
merely mean precedence and sequence of two feelings, in- 
definitely like an indefinite number of other feelings that 
have thus the one preceded and the other followed ; or is it 
a relation between one qualified thing or definite fact always 
the same with itself, and another such thing or fact always 
the same with itself? The question carries its own answer. 
If in the definition quoted Hume used the phrase * all like 
objects ' instead of the * same object,' in order to avoid the 
appearance of introducing the ' fiction ' of identity into the 
definition of cause, the device does not avail him much. The 
effect of the *like' is neutralized by the * all.' A uniform re- 
lation is impossible except between objects of which each has 
a definite identity. 

312. When Hume has to describe the experience which ^thout 
gives the idea of cause and effect, he virtually admits this, ^^'ch 
* The nature of experience,' he tells us, * is this. We re- be*^ re^ 
member to have had frequent instances of the existence of cognition 

of an 
> AboTe, pan. 298 and 299. 


object as one species of objects, and also remember that the indiTidnals 
^erwtd ^^ another species of objects have always attended them, and 
babra. haTC existed in a regnlar order of contignitj and succession 
with regard to them. Thus we remember to have seen that 
species of object we caU^me, and to have felt that species of 
sensation we call heed. We likewise call to mind their con- 
stant conjunction in all past instances. Without any farther 
ceremony we call the one cause, and the other effect, and 
infer the existence of the one from the other.' ' It appears, 
then, that upon experiencing certain sensations of sight and 
touch, we recognize each as *one of a species of objects ' which 
we remember to have obsenred in certain constant relations 
before. In virtue of the reoc^nition the sensations become 
severally this^me and this heat; and in virtue of the remem- 
brance the objects thus recognized are held to be related in 
the way of cause and effect. Now it is clear that though the 
recognition takes place upon occasion of a feeling, the object 
recognized — ^this flame or this heat — is by no means the feel- 
ing as a ^perishing existence.' Unless the feeling were 
taken to represent a thing, conceived as permanently existing 
under certain relations and attributes — in other words, unless 
it were identified by thought — it would be no definite object, 
not this fiwme or this heat, at all. The moment it is named, 
it has ceased to be a feeling and become a felt thing, or, in 
Hume's language, an * individual of a apecies of objects.^ And 
just as the present ' perception ' is the recognition of such an 
individual, so the remembrance which determines the recog- 
nition is one wholly different from the return with lessened 
liveliness of a feeling more strongly felt before. According 
to Hume's own statement, it consists in recalling 'frequent 
instances of the existence of a species of objects.^ It is remem- 
brance of an experience in which every feeling, that has been 
attended to, has been interpreted as a firesh appearance of 
some qualified object that * exists ' throughout its appear- 
ances — an experience which for that reason forms a con- 
nected whole. K it were not so, there could be no such 
comparison of the relations in which two objects are now 
presented with those in which they have always been pre- 
sented, as that which according to Hume determines us to 
regard tbem as cause and effect. The condition of our so 

> P. 388. 


regarding them is that we suppose the objects now presented 
to be ^&6 same with those of which we have hod previous 
experience. It is only on supposition that a certain sensa- 
tion of sight is not merely ike a multitude of others^ but 
represents the same object as that which I have previously 
known as flame, that I infer the sequence of heat and, when 
it does follow, regard it as an effect. K I thought that the 
sensation of sight, however like those previously referred to 
flame, did not represent the same object, I should not infer 
heat as effect ; and conversely, if, having identified the sensa- 
tion of sight as representative of flame, I found that the 
inferred heat was not actually felt, I should judge that I 
was mistaken in the identification. It follows that it is only 
an experience of identical, and by consequence related and 
qualified, objects, of which the memory can so determine a 
sequence of feelings as to constitute it an experience of cause 
and effect. Thus the perception and remembrance upon 
which, according to Hume, we judge one object to be the 
cause of another, alike rest on the ^ fictions of identity and 
continued existence.' Without these no present experience 
would, in his language, be an instance of an individual of a 
certain species existing in a certain relation, nor would there 
be a past experience of individuals of the same species, by 
comparison with which the constancy of the relation might 
be ascertained. 

313. Against this derivation of the conception of cause and Home 
effect, as implying that of identity, may be urged the fact ^tionTof 
that when we would ascertaiu the ta-uth of any identification identity 
we do so by reference to causes and effects. As Hume him- ^h^oomi 
self puts it at the outset of his discussion of causation, an before tho 
inference of identity * beyond the impressions of our senses ^*^'*"*'* 
can be founded only on the connexion of cause and effect.' • • • 
'Whenever we discover a perfect resemblance between a 
new object and one which was formerly present to the senses, 
we consider whether it be common in that species of objects; 
whether possibly or probably any cause could operate in 
producing the change and resemblance ; and according as we 
determine concerning these causes and effects, we form our 
judgment concerning the identity of the object.' ^ This ad- 
mission, it may be said, though it tells against Hume's own 

• P. 876. 


subsequent explanation of identity as a fiction of the imagi- 
nation, is equally inconsistent with any doctrine that would 
treat identity as the presupposition of inference to cause or 
effect. Now undoubtedly if the identity of interrupted per- 
ceptions is one fiction of the imagination and the relation of 
cause and effect another, each resulting from ^ custom/ to 
say with Hume, that we must have the idea of cause in order to 
arrive at the supposition of identity, is logically to exclude any 
derivation of that idea from an experience which involves 
the supposition of identity. The ^ custom ' which generates 
the idea of cause must have done its work before that which 
generates the supposition of identity can begin. Hume there- 
fore, after the admission just quoted, was not entitled to treat 
the inference to cause or effect as a habit derived from ex- 
perience of identical things. But it is otherwise if the con- 
ceptions of causation and identity are correlative — not results 
of experience of which one must be formed before the other, 
but co-ordinate expressions of one and the same synthetic 
principle, which renders experience possible. And this is 
the real state of the case. It is true, as Hume points out, 
that when we want to know whether a certain sensation, 
precisely resembling one that we have previously experienced, 
represents the same object, we do so by asking how other- 
Their tame wise it Can be accounted for. If no difference appears in its 
^™^ antecedents or sequents, we identify it — refer it to the same 
thing — as that previously experienced; for its relations 
(which, since it is an event in time, take the form of antece- 
dence and sequence) are the thing. The conceptions of 
identity and of relation in the way of cause and effect are thus 
as strictly correlative and inseparable as those of the thing 
and of its relations. .Without the conception of identity experi- 
ence would want a centre, without that of cause and effect it 
would want a circumference. Without the supposition of 
objects which ^ existing at one time are the same with them- 
selves as existing at other times' — a supposition which at 
last, when through acquaintance with the endlessness of 
orderly change we have learnt that there is but one object 
for which such identity can be claimed without qualification, 
becomes the conception of nature as a uniform whole — ^there 
could be no such comparison of the relations in which an 
object is now presented with those in which it has been 
before presented, as determines us to reckon it the cause or 


effect of another ; but it is equally true that it is only by 
such comparison of relations that the identity of any particu- 
lar object can be ascertained. 

314. Thus, though we may concede to Hume that neither Home 
in the inference to the relation of cause and effect nor in the 9^"^ ^^^ 
conclusions we draw from it do we go * beyond experience,'* that wo do 
this will merely be, if his account of it as a ^philosophical "®^^^^ 
relation ' be true, because in experience we already go beyond yo^ sense 
sense. * There is nothing,' says Hume, * in any object con- \^ reason- 
sidered in itself that can afford us a reason for drawing a jn^p^f" 
eonclusion beyond it,' • — a statement which to him means ception. 
that, if the mind really passes from it to another, this is only 
because as a matter of fact another feeling follows on the first. 
Bu<^ in truth, if each teeling were merely * considered in itself,' 
the fact that one follows on another would be no fact for the 
$fuhject ofthefeelmgM, no starting-point of intelligent experience 
at all ; for the fact is the relation between the feeUngs — a 
relation which only exists for a subject that considers neither 
feeling ' in itself,' as a ' separate and perishing existence,' 
but finds a reality in the determination of each by the other 
which, as it is not either or both of them, so survives, while 
they pass, as a permanent factor of experience. Thus in 
order that any definite * object ' of experience may exist for 
us, our feelings must have ceased to be what according to 
Hume they are in themselves. They cease to be so in virtue 
of the presence to them of the Ego, in common relation to 
which tiiey become related to each other as mutually qualified 
members of a permanent system — a system which at first for 
the individual consciousness exists only as a forecast or in 
outline, and is gradually realized and filled up with the 
accession of experience. It is quite true that nothing more 
than the reference to such a system, already necessary to 
constitute the simplest object of experience, is involved in 
that interpretation of every event as a changed appearance 
of an unchanging order, and therefore to be accounted for, 
which we call inference to a cause or the inference of neces- 
sary connection ; or, again, in the identification of the event, 
the determination of its particular nature by the discovery y^ 
of its particular cause. — _^— ^-^ 

815. The supposed difference then between immediate and How his 
mediate cognition is no absolute difference. It is not a m^ht^have 
■ AboTe, pan. 285 & 286. * P» 486 and elsewhoM 




Itf actual 

difference between experience and a process that goes 
beyond experience, or between an experience unregulated 
bj a conception of a permanent system and one that is so 
regulated. It lies merely in the degree of fullness and ar- 
ticulation which that conception has attained. K this had 
been what Hume meant to convey in his assimilation of 
inference to perception, he would have gone fiix to anticipate 
the result of the enquiry which Eant started. And this is 
what he might have come to mean if, instead of playing feist 
and loose with * impression* and * object,' using each as 
plausibility required on the principle of accommodation to the 

* vulgar,' he had faced the consequence of his own implicit 
admission, that every perception of an object as identical is a 

* fiction ' in which we go beyond present feeling. As it is, 
his * scepticism with regard to the senses * goes far enough 
to empty their * reports ' of the content which the * vulgar ' 
ascribe to them, and thus to put a breach between sense and 
the processes of knowledge, but not far enough to replace 
the ^ sensible thing ' by a function of reason. In default of 
such replacement, there was no way of filling the breach but 
to bring back the vulgar theory under the cover of habits 
and ' tendencies to feign,' which all suppose a ready-made 
knowledge of the sensible thing as their starting-point. 
Hence the constant contradiction, which it is our thankless 
task to trace, between his solution of the real world into a 
succession of feelings and the devices by which he sought to 
make room in ]iis system for the actual procedure of the phy- 
sioal sciences^' Conspicuous among these is his allowance 
of that view of relation in the way of cause and effect as an 
objective reality, which is represented by his definition of it 
as a * philosophical relation.' It is in the sense represented 
by that definition that his doctrine has been understood and 
retained by subsequent formulators of inductive logic ; but 
on examining it in the light of his own statements we have 
found that the relation, as thus defined, is not that which, 
his theory required, and as which to represent it is the whole 
motive of his disquisition on the subject. It is not a se- 
quence of impression upon impression, distinguished merely 
by its constancy ; nor a sequence of idea upon impression, 
distinguished merely by that transfer of liveliness to the idea 
which arises from the constancy of its sequence upon the im- 
pression, n is a relation between ' objects ' of which each 


is what it is onlj as ' an instance of a species ' that exists 
continuously, and therefore in distinction from our * perishing 
impressions/ according to a regular order of * contiguity and 
succession.* As such existence and order are by Hume's 
own showing no possible impressions, and by consequence 
no possible ideas, so neither are the * objects ' which derive 
their whole character from them. 

816. It may be said, however, that wherever Hume ad- Ko pMo- 
mits a definition purporting to be of a * philosophical rela- ^^^ 
tion,' he does so only as an accommodation, and under warning ftdmissible 
that every such relation is * fictitious * except so far as it is J^?""* 
equivalent to a natural one; that according to his express notderivod 
statement * it is only so far as causation is a, natural relation, *~™ * 
and produces an union among our ideas, that we are able to one. 
reason upon it or draw any inference from it;'^ and that 
therefore it is only by his definition of it as a ' natural rela- 
tion ' that he is to be judged. Such a vindication of Hume 
would be more true than eflFective. That with him the 
* philosophical ' relation of cause and eflFect is * fictitious,* 
with all the fictitiousness of a ^ continued existence distinct 
from perceptions,* is what it has been the object of the 
preceding paragraphs to show. But the fictitiousness of a 
relation can with him mean nothing else than that, instead 
of having an idea of it, we have only a * tendency to suppose * 
that we have such an idea. Thus the designation of- the 
philosophical relation of cause and effect carries with it two 
conditions, one negative, the other positive, on the obser- 
vance of which the logical value of the designation depends. 
The * tendency to suppose * must not after all be itself trans- 
lated into the idea which it is to replace ; and it must be 
accounted for as derived from a ^ natural relation ' which is 
not fictitious. That the negative condition is violated by 
Hume, we have sufficiently seen. He treats the ^philo- 
sophical relation * of cause and effect, in spite of the 'fictions' 
which it involves, not as a name for a tendency to suppose that 
we have an idea which we have not, but as itself a definite idea 
on which he founds various * rules for judging what objects 
are really so related and what are not.'* That the positive 
condition is violated also— that the * natural relation' of 
cause and effect, according to the sense in which his definition 
of it is meant to be understood, already itself involves * fic- 

» P. 304. • Part m. § 16. 


tions/ and onlj for that reason is a possible source of the 

* phQosophical ' — is what we have next to show. 

Examina- 317. That definition, it will be remembered, nms as 
Uon of hi* follows: * A causo is an object precedent and contiguous 
of cavM to another, and so united with it in the imagination that 
*"f ®^"^ the idea of the one determines the mind to form the idea 
nUidon.' of the other, and the impression of the one to form a more 
livelj idea of the other/ Now, as has been sufficientlj shown, 
the object of an idea with Hnme can properljr mean nothing 
but the impression from which the idea is deriyed, which 
again is only the livelier idea, even as the idea is the fiednter 
impression. The idea and the object of it, then, only differ 
as different stages in the vivacity of a feeling.' It most be 
remembered, further, in regard to the * determination of the 
mind ' spoken of in the definition, that the * mind' accord- 
ing to Hame is merely a succession of impressions and ideas, 
and that its * determination * means no more than a certain 
habitualness in this succession. Deprived of the benefit of 
ambiguous phraseology, then, the definition would run thus : 
*A cause is a lively feeling immediately precedent to another,* 
and so united with it that when either of the two more 
faintly recurs, the other follows with like fidntness, and when 
either occurs with the maximum of liveliness the other 
follows with less, but still great, liveliness.' Thus stated, the 
definition would correspond well enough to the process by 
which Hume arrives at it, of which the whole drift, as we 
have seen, is to merge the so-called objective relation of cause 
and effect, with the so-called inference trom it, in the mere 
habitual transition from one feeling to another. But it is 
only because not thus stated, and because the actual state- 
ment is understood to carry a meaning of which Hume's 
doctrine does not consistently admit, that it has a chance of 
finding acceptance. Its plausibility depends on * object ' and 

* mind ' and * determination ' being understood precisely in 
the sense in which, according to Hume, they ought not to be 
understood, so that it shall express not a sequence of feeling 

> See aboTe, paragraphs 1 96 and 208. and contignonB.' Contigaitr in space 

Gf. also, among other passages, one in (which is what we natnrally understand 

the chapter now under consideration by * contiguity,' when used absolutely) 

(p. 451) — 'Ideas always represent their he could not have deliberately taken to 

o^'ecta or impressions* be necessary to constitute the relation 

' The phrase ' immediately precedent' of cause and effect, since the impressions 

would seem to convey Hume's meaning so related, as he elsewhere shows, may 

better than his own phrase 'precedent often not be in space at all 

AS J5UCH, rr IS not objective. 271 

ujfon feeling, as this might be for a merely feeling subject, 
bnt that permanent relation or law of nature which to a 
subject that thinks upon its feelings, and only to such a 
subject, their sequence constitutes or on which it depends. 

318. It is this essential distinction between the sequence Bcnbie 
of feeling upon feeUng for a sentient subject and the relation ^^^^^^^ 
which to a thinking subject this sequence constitutes — a relation. 
distinction not less essential than that between the con- ^wHume 
ditions, through which a man passes in sleep, as they are account. 
for the sleeping subject himself, and as they are for another 
thinking upon them — which it is the characteristic of Hume's 
doctrine of natural relation in all its forms to disguise. 

Only in virtue of the presence to feelings of a subject, which 
distinguishes itself from them, do they become related objects. 
Thus, with Hume's exclusion of such a subject, with his re- 
duction of mind and world alike to the succession of feelings, 
relations and ideas of relation logically disappear. But by 
help of the phrase * natural relation,' covering, as it does, 
two wholly different things — l^e involuntary sequence of one 
feeling upon another, and that determination of each by the 
otheridrich can only" take place for a synthetic self-con- 
B^ usflJBfiB-^-^ 18^ able on the one hand to deny that the 
relations which form the framework of knowledge are more 
than sequences of feeling, and on the other to clothe them 
with so much of the real character of relations as qualifies 
them for ^principles of union among ideas.' Thus the mere 
occurrence of similar feelings is with him already that rela- 
tion in the way of resemblance, which in truth only exists for 
a subject that can contemplate them as permanent objects. 
In like manner the succession of feelings, which can only 
constitute time for a subject that contrasts the succession 
with its own unity, and which, if ideas were feelings, would 
exclude the possibility of an idea of time, is yet with him 
indifferentiy time and the idea of time, though ideas are 
fiselings and there is no * mind ' but their succession. 

319. The fallacy of Hume's doctrine of causation is merely If an elTeet 
an aggravated form of that which has generally passed mus- *" ™^ly 
ter in his doctrine of time. If time, because a relation be- stantij 
tween feelings, can be supposed to survive the exclusion of a o^«rvei 
thinking self and the reduction of the world and mind to a bow can an 
succession of feelings, the relation of cause and eflfect has «jpntbean 
only to be assimilated to that of time in order that its in- f^^ tim* 


i^jg compatibilitj with the dedred lednctdon may disappear, 

obienred 7 The great obstacle to sach asBunilation lies in that opposition 
to the mere sequence of feelings which causation as ' matter 
of fiu^' — as that in discoyering which we 'discoTer the real 
existence and rehitions of objects * — ^purports to carry with 
it. Why do we set aside onr osnal experience as delosiye in 
Hume contrast with the exceptional experience of the hiboratory — 
^^!^ why do we decide that an event which has seemed to happen 
qoMtion; Cannot really have happened, because under the given con- 
ditions no adequate cause of it could have been operative — if 
the relation of cause and effect is itself merely a succession 
of seemings, repeated so often as to leave behind it a lively 
expectation of its recurrence 9 This question, once £Eurly put, 
cannot be answered : it can only be evaded. It is Hume's 
method of evasion that we have now more particularly to 

320. In its detailed statement it is very different from the 
method adopted in those modem treatises of Logic which, 
beginning with the doctrine that fieu^ts are merely feelings in 
Still, he » ^jjQ constitution of which thought has no share, still contrive 
off the to make free use in their logical canon of the antithesis be- 
Inductiye tween the real and apparent. The key to this modem 
whf ch gap- method is to be found in its ambiguous use of the term ' phe- 
posee an nomenon,' alike for the feeling as it is felt, * perishing * when 
Mquen^. ^^ ceases to be felt, and for the feeling as it is for a thinking 
subject — ^a qualifying and qualified element in a permanent 
world. Only if facts were * phenomena ' in the former sense 
would the antithesis between facts and conceptions be valid ; 
only if ^ phenomena ' are understood in the latter sense can 
causation be said to be a law of phenomena. So strong, how- 
ever, is the charm which this ambiguous term has exercised, 
that to the ordinary modem logician the question above put 
may probably seem unmeaning. * The appearance,' he will 
say, ^ which we set aside as delusive does not consist in any 
of the reports of the senses — these are always true — but in 
some false supposition in regard to them due to an insufficient 
analysis of experience, in some reference of an actual sensa- 
tion to a group of supposed possibilities of sensation, called a 
" thing," which are either, unreal or with which it is not 
really coimected. The correction of the felse appearance by 
a discovery of causation is the replacement of a false sup- 
position, as to the possibility of the antecedence or sequence 


of one feeling to another, by the discovery, through analysis 
of experience, of what feelings do actually precede and foUow 
each other* It implies no transition from feelings to things, 
but only from a supposed sequence of feelings to the actual 
one* Science in its farthest range leaves us among appear- 
ances still. It only teaches us what really appears.' 

821. Kow the presupposition of this answer is the existence Can the 
of just that necessary connexion as between appearances, principle 
just that objective order, for which, because it is not a possible for^ty oi 
* impression or idea,' Hume has to substitute a blind pro- nature be 
pensity produced by habit. Those who make it, indeed, ^^^ 
would repel the imputation of believing in any ^ necessary con- queaces ot 
nexion,* which to them represents that * mysterious tie* in ^'^"8®^ 
which they vaguely suppose 'metaphysicians' to believe. 
They would say that necessary connexion is no more than 
uniformity of sequence. But sequence of what P Not of feel- 
ings as the individual feels them, for then there would be no 
perfect uniformities, but only various degrees of approxima- 
tion to uniformity, and the measure of approximation in each 
case would be the. amount of the individual's experience in 
that particular directiou. The procedure of the inductive 
logician shows that his belief in the uniformity of a sequence 
is irrespective of the number of instances in which it has been 
experienced. A single instance in which one feeling is felt 
afber another, if it satisfy the requirements of the ' method of 
difference,' i.e. if it show exactly what it is that precedes and 
what it is that follows in that instance. Suffices to establish a 
uniformity of sequence, on the principle that what is fact once 
is fEkct always. Now a uniformity that can be thus established 
is in the proper sense necessary. Its existence is not con- 
tingent on its being felt by anyone or everyone. It does not 
come into being with the experiment that shows it. It is 
felt because it is real, not real because it is felt. It may be 
objected indeed that the principle of the ^uniformity of nature,' 
the principle that what is fact once is fact always, itself 
gradually results from the observation of facts which are feel- 
ings, and that thus the principle which enables us to dispense 
vnih. the repetition of a sensible experience is itself due to 
such repetition. The answer is, that feelings which are con- 
ceived as facts are abready conceived as constituents of a 
nature. The same presence of the thinking subject to, and 
distinction of itself from, the feelings, which renders them 

VOL. I. T 


knowable /a^, renders them members of a world which is one 
throaghont its changes. In other words, the presence of ficicts 
from which the uniformity of natore, as an abstract rale, is 
to be inferred, is already the consciousness of that nniformity 
in concreio. 
^^th 322. Hume himself makes a mnch more thorough attempt 

oiUjvni- ^ ayoid that pre-determination of feelings by the conception 
formity is of a world, of things and relations, which is implied in the 
tiov^M^ yiew of them as permanent &cts. He wUl not, if he can help 
tenninad it, SO Openly depart from the original doctrine that thought 
by^habit; j^ merely weaker sense. Such conceptions as those of the 
■traiigtliof uniformity of nature and of reality, being no possible 'im- 
'°^totioii P^^o^B ^^ ideas,' he only professes to admit in a character 
mutt X9XJ wholly different from that in which they actually gOTern in- 
iodtfA- ductive philosophy. Just as by reality he understands not 
something to which liveliness of feeling may be an index, but 
simply that hVeliness itself and by an inferred or belieyed 
reality a feeling to which this liveliness has been communis 
Gated from one that already has it ; so he is careM to tell us 
^ that the supposition that the future resembles the past is 
derived entirely from habit, by which we are determined to ex- 
pect for the future the same train of objects to which we have 
been accustomed.' ' The supposition then is this ' determina- 
tion,' this ^ propensity,' to expect. Any 'idea' derived from the 
propensity can only be the propensity itself at a fainter stage ; 
and between such a propensity and the conception of ' nature,' 
whether as xmiform or otherwise, there is a difference which 
only the most hasty reader can be liable to ignore. But if 
by any confusion an expectation of future feelings, determined 
by the remembrance of past feelings, could be made equivalent 
to any conception of nature, it would not be of nature as uni- 
form. As is the ^ habit ' which determines the expectation, 
such must be the expectation itself; and as have been the 
sequences of feeling in each man's past, such must be the 
habit which results from them. Now no one's feelings have 
always occurred to him in the same relative order. There 
may be some pairs of feelings of which one has always been 
felt before the other and never after it, and between which 
there has never been an intervention of a third — although 
(to take Hume's favourite instance) even the feeling of heat 


may sometimes precede the sight of the flame — and in these 
cases npon occurrence of one there will be nothing to qualify 
the expectation of the other. But just so far as there are 
exceptions in our past experience to the immediate sequence 
of one feeling upon another, must there be a qualificatiou 
of our expectation of the future, if it be undetermined by 
extraneous conceptions, with reference to those particular 

823. Thus the expectation that 'the future will resemble Itconid 
the past,' if the past means to each man (and Hume could °^J ^^ 
not allow of its meaning more) merely the succession of his purpose as 
own feelings, must be made up of a multitude of different ex- ^^\?o°'^f 
pectations — some few of these being of that absolute and uniformity 
unqualified sort which alone, it would seem, can regulate the ^^ n&tupo. 
transition that we are pleased to call ' necessary connexion ;' 
the rest as various in their strength and liveliness as there are 
possible differences between cases where the chances are 
evenly balanced and where they are all on one side. From 
Hume's point of view, as he himself says, ' every past experi- 
ment,' i.e. every instance in which feeling (a) has been found 
to follow feeling (6), * may be considered a kind of chance.' ' 
As are the instances of this kind to the instances in which 
some other feeling has followed (&), such are the chances or 
* probability ' that (a) will follow (6) again, and such upon the 
occurrence of (6) will be that liveliness in the expectation of 
(a), which alone with Hume is the reality of the connexion 
between them. Tn such an expectation, in an expectation 
made up of such expectations, there would be nothing to serve 
the purpose which the conception of the uniformity of nature 
actuaUy serves in inductive science. It could never make us 
believe that a feeling felt before another — as when the motion 
of a bell is seen before the sound of it has been heard — repre* 
sents the real antecedent. It could never set us upon that 
analysis of our experience by which we seek to get beyond 
sequences that are merely usual, and admit of indefinite ex- 
ceptions, to such as are invariable ; upon that ^interiogation 
of nature ' by which, on the faith that there is a uniformity 
if only we could find it out, we wrest from her that confes- 
sion of a law which she does not spontaneously offer. The 
fact that some sequences of feeling have been so uniform as 

» P. 433. 
T 2 



the mean- 
ing of this 
tion by his 
account of 

» remem* 
brance * 

Bearing of 
his doc- 
trine of 
upon his 

to result in unqualified expectations (if it be so) could of itself 
afford no motive for tr}ing to compass other ezpectataons of 
a like character which do not naturally present themselyes. 
Nor could there be anything in the appearance of an ezoep- 
tion to a sequence, hitherto found uniform, to lead us to chaiige 
our previous expectation for one which shall not be liable to 
fiuch modification. The previous expectation would be so far 
weakened, but there is nothing in the mere weakening of our 
expectations that should lead to the effort to place them be- 
yond the possibility of being weakened. Much less could the 
bundle of expectations come to conceive themselves as one 
system so as that, through the interpretation of each excep* 
tion to a supposed uniformity of sequence as an instance of a 
real one, the changes of the parts should prove the unchange- 
ableness of the whole. 

824. That a doctrine which reduces the order of nature to 
strength of expectation, and exactly reverses the positions 
severally given to belief and reality in the actual procedure of 
science,^ should have been ostensibly adopted by scientific men 
as theirown — with every allowance for Hume's literaiyskilland 

* It is by ft curious fate that Hume 
should have been remembered, at any 
rate in the ' religious' world, chiefly by 
the argument ag}un8t miracles which 
appears in the ' Essays ' — an argument 
which, however irrefhigable in itself, 
turns wholly upon that conception of 
nature as other than our instinctive ex- 
pectations and imaginations, which has 
no proper place in his system (see 
Vol. IV. page 89). If * necessary con- 
nexion ' were really no more than the 
transition of imagination, as determined 
by constant association, from an idea to 
its usual attendant — if there were no 
conception of an objective order to de- 
termine belief other than the belief 
Itaelf — the fact that such an event, as 
the revival of one four-days-dead at 
the command of a person, had been 
believed, since it would show that the 
imagination was at liberty to pass from 
the idea of the revival to that of the 
command (or vice tfersa) with that live- 
liness which constitutes reality, would 
show also that no necessary connexio •, 
no law of nature in the only sense in 
which Hume entitles himself to speak 
of such, was violated by the sequence 
of the revival on the command. At 
the same time there would be nothing 

* miraculous,' according to his definition 
of the miraculous as distinct from 
the extraordinary, in the case. Taken 
strictly, indeed, Vis doctrine implies 
that a belief in a miracle is a contra- 
diction in terms. An event is not re- 
garded as miraculous unless it is re- 
garded as a ' transgression of a law of 
nature by a particular volition of the 
Deity or by the interposition of some 
invisible agent' (page 93, note i); but it 
could not transgress a law of nature in 
Hume's sense unless it were so inconsis- 
tent with the habitual association of 
ideas as that it could not be believed. 
Hume's only consistent way of attack- 
ing miracles, then, would have been to 
show that the events in question, as 
miraculous^ had never been believed. 
Having been obliged to recognize the 
belief in their having happened, he is 
open to the retort ' ad hominem ' that 
according to his own showing the belief 
in the events constitutes their reality. 
Such a retort, however, would be of no 
avail in the theological interest, which 
requires not merely that the events 
should have happened but that they 
should have been miraeulous, i, e. 

* transgressions of a law of natare by 
a particular volition of the Deity.' 


lor the charm which the prospect of overcoming the separation 
between reason and instinct exercises over naturalists — would 
have been nnacconntable if the doctrine had been thus nakedly 
put or consistently maintained. But it was not so. Hume's 
sense of consistency was satisfied when expectation deter- 
mined by remembrance had been put in the place of neces- 
sary connexion, as the basis of ^inference to matters of fact.' 
It does not lead him to adjust his view of the fact inferred 
to his view of the basis on which the inference rests. 
Expectation is an * impression of reflection,' and if the rela- 
tion of cause and effect is no more than expectation, that 
which seemed most strongly to resist reduction to feeling has 
yet been so reduced. But if the expectation is to be no more 
than an impression of reflection, the object expected mnst 
itself be no more than an impression of some kind or other. 
The expectation must be expectation of a feeling, pure 
and simple. Nor does Hume in so many words allow that it is 
otherwise, but meanwhile though the expectation itself is not 
openly tampered with, the remembrance that determines it is 
so. This is being taken to be that, which it cannot be unless 
ideas unborrowed from impressions are operative in and upon 
it. It is being regarded, not as the recurrence of a multitude 
of feelings with a liveliness indefinitely less than that in 
virtue of which they are called impressions of sense, and in- 
definitely greater than that in virtue of which they are called 
ideas of imagination, but as the recognition of a world of 
experience, one, real and abiding. An expectation deter- 
mined by such remembrance is governed by the same * fictions * 
of identity and continued existence which are the formative 
conditions of the remembrance. Expectation and remem- 
brance, in fact, are one and the same intellectual act, one and This 
the same reference of feelings, given in time, to an order that f®™®"™- 
is not in time, distinguished according to the two faces which, he de-' 
its * matter ' being in time, it has to present severally to past scpii>^« i^ 
and future. The remembrance is the measure of the expecta- concl^tion 
tion, but as the remembrance carries with it the notion of a of a system 
world whose existence does not depend on its being remem- ° °^ ^"* 
bered, and whose laws do not vary according to the regularity 
or looseness with which our ideas are associated, so too does 
the expectation, and only as so doing becomes the mover and 
regulator of * inference from the known to the unknown.' 
325. In the passage already quoted, where Hume is speak- 



This ex- 
plains bis 
of an ob- 
to causa 

ing of the expectation in question as depending simply on 
habit, he jet speaks of it as an expectation ' of the game 
irwin of objects to which we have been accustomed.' These 
words in effect imply that it is not habit, as constituted 
simply by the repetition of separate sequences of feelings, 
that governs the expectation — ^in which case, as we have 
seen, the expectation would be made up of expectations as 
many and as various in strength as have been the sequences 
and their several degrees of regularity — ^but, if habit in any 
sense, habit as itself governed by conceptions of ' identity 
and distinct continued existence,' in virtue of which, as past 
experience is not an indefinite series of perishing impressions 
of separate men but represents one world, so all fresh 
experience becomes part ^ of the same train of objects ;' part 
of a system of which, as a whole, ' the change lies only in the 
time.' ' K now we look back to the account given of the re- 
lation of memory to belief we shall find that it is just so far 
as, without distinct avowal, and in violation of his principles, 
he makes 'impressions of memory' carry with them the 
conception of a real system, other than the consciousness of 
their own liveliness, that he gains a meaning for belief which 
makes it in any respect equivalent to the judgment, based on 
inference, of actual science. 

826. Any one who has carefully read the chapters on 
inference and belief will have found himself frequently 
doubting whether he has caught the author's meaning cor- 
rectly. A clear line of thought may be traced throughout, 
as we have already tried to trace it • — one perfectly con- 
sistent with itself and leading properly to the conclusion that 
'all reasonings are nothing but the e£fect of custom, and that 
custom has no influence but by enlivening the imagination '' 
— but its even tenour is disturbed by the exigency of show- 
ing that proven fact, after turning out to be no more than 
enlivened imagination, is still what common sense and phy- 
sical science take it to be. According to the consistent 
theory, ideas of memory are needed for inference to cause or 
effect, simply because they are lively. Such inference is 
inference to a ' real existence,' that is to an ' idea assented 
to,' that is to a feeling having such liveliness as, not beinop 
itself one of sense or memory, it can only derive from one of 

' P. 492. 

' AboTe, pangraphe 389 and ff. 

• P. 445. 


sense or memory through association with it. That the in- 
ferred idea is a cause or effect and, as such, has ^ real exist- 
ence,* merely means that it has this derived liveliness or is 
believed ; just as the reality ascribed to the impression of 
memory lies merely in its having this abundant liveliness 
from which to communicate to its ' usual attendant.' But 
while the title of an idea to be reckoned a cause or effect is 
thus made to depend on its having the derived liveliness 
which constitutes belief,* on the other hand we find Hume 
from time to time making belief depend on causation, as on a 
relation of objects distinct frx>m the lively suggestion of one 
by the others* ^ Belief arises only from causation, and we 
can draw no inference from one object to another except 
they be connected by this relation.' * The relation of cause 
and effect is requisite to persuade us of any real existence.'' 
In the context of these disturbing admissions we find a 
reconsideration of the doctrine of memory which explains 
them, but only throws back on that doctrine the incon- 
sistency which they exhibit in the doctrine of belief. 

827. This reconsideration arises out of an objection to his Reality of 
doctrine which Hume anticipates, to the effect that since, bereT" 
according to it, belief is a lively idea associated ^ to a present * system* 
impression,' any suggestion of an idea by a resembliug or to*°sj8tem 
contiguous impression should constitute belief. How is it of judg- 
then that * belief arises only from causation ' ? His answer, "®^' 
which must be quoted at length, is as follows : — ' 'Tis evident 
that whatever is present to the memory, striking upon the 
mind with a vivacity which resembles an immediate impres- 
sion, must become of considerable moment in aU the opera- 
tions of the mind and must easily distinguish itself above 
the mere fictions of the imagination. Of these impressions 
or ideas of the memory we form a kind of system, com- 
prehending whatever we remember to have been present 
either to our internal perception or senses, and every par- 
ticular of that system, joined to the present impressions, we 
are pleased to call a reality. But the mind stops not here. 

* It may be aa well bere to point out repetition of that unpression in the 

the inconsistency in Hume's use of memoTy. But in the following section 

'belief/ At the end of sec. 6 (Fart the characteristic of belief is placed in 

III.) the term tfl extended to ' impres- the derived liveliness of an idea as din- 

sions of the senses and memory.' We tinct from the immediate liveliness of 

are said to belii-ve when * we feel an an impression. 
immediate impremon of the senses, or a ^ Pp. 407 & 409. 


For finding that with this system of perceptions there is 
another connected bj cnstom or, if you will, by the relatLOu 
of canse and effect, it proceeds to the consideration of their 
ideas ; and as it feels that 'tis in a manner necessarily deter- 
mined to view these particular ideas, and that the coistom or 
relation by which it is determined admits not of the least 
change, it forms them into a new system, which it likewise 
dignifies with the title of realities. The first of these systems 
is the object of the memory and senses ; the second of the 
judgment. 'Tis this latter principle which peoples the world, 
and brings us acquainted which such existences as, by their 
removal in time and place, lie beyond the reach of the senses 
and memory.' ^ 
Reality of 328. From this it appears that ^ what we are pleased to 
^^em^ call reality ' belongs, not merely to a 'present impression,' but 
other thiin to * eveiy particular of a system joined to the present im- 
f^i'^yo' pression' and 'comprehending whatever we remember to 
^0^ have been present either to our internal perception or senses/ 
This admission already amounts io an abandonment of the 
doctrine that reality consists in liveliness of feding. It can- 
not be that every particular of the system comprehending 
all remembered facts, which is joined with the present impres- 
sion, can have the vivacity of that impression either along 
vriith it or by successive communication. We can only feel 
one thing at a time, and by the time the vivacity had spread 
far from the present impression along the pai-ticulars of the 
system, it must have declined from that indefinite degree 
which marks an impression of sense. It is not, then, the 
derivation of vivacity from the present impression, to which 
it is joined, that renders the ' remembered system ' real ; and 
what other vivacity can it be ? It may be said indeed that 
each particular of the system had once the required vivaciiy, 
was once a present impression ; but if in ceasing to be so, it 
did not cease to be real — if, on the contrary, it could not 
become a ' particular of the system,' counted real, without 
becoming otiier than the ' perishing existence ' which an im- 
pression is — it is clear that there is a reality which lively 
feeling does not constitute and which involves the ' fiction ' 
of an existence continued in the absence, not only of lively 
feeling, but of all feelings whatsoever. So soon, in short, 

> P. 408. 

'SYSTEM OF judgment; 281 

&8 reality is ascribed to a system, which cannot be an ' im- 
pression' and of which consequently there cannot be an 
'idea,' the first principle of Hume's speculation is aban- 
doned. The truth is implicitly recognized that the reality 
of an individual object consists in that system of its relations 
which only exists for a conceiving, as distinct from a feeling, 
subject, even as the unreal has no meaning except as a con- 
fused or inadequate conception of such relations ; and that 
thus the ' present impression ' is neither real nor unreal in 
itself^ but may be equally one or the other according as the 
relations, under which it is conceived by the subject of it, 
correspond to those by which it is determined for a perfect 

329. A clear recognition of this truth can alone explain it is con- 
the nature of belief as a result of inference from the known ®*^^^ ^^ 
to the unknown, which is, at the same time, inference to a which are 
matter of fact. The popular notion, of course, is that cer- °ot im- 
tain facts are given by feeling without inference and then S^u7°' 
other facts inferred from them. But what is *fact' taken andinthii 
to mean P K a feeling, then an inferred feet is a contra- nation^or 
diction, for it is an unfelt feeling. K (as should be the case) the infer- 
it is taken to mean the relation of a feeling to something, ^^^ «^^. 
then it already involves inference— the interpretation of the tem of 
feeling by means of the conception of a universal, self or J^^°»®»^** 
world, brought to it — an inference which is all inference in 
posse, for it implies that a universe of relations is there, 
which I must know if I would know the fall reality of the 
individual object: so that no fact can be even partially 
known without compelling an inference to the unknown, nor 
can there be any inference to the unknown without modifi- 
cation of what already purports to be known. Hume, trying 
to carry out the equivalence of fact and feeling, and having 
dearer sight than his masters, finds himself in the presence 
of this difficulty about inference. Unless the inferred object 
is other than one of sense (outer or inner) or of memory, there 
is no reasoning, but only perception ;• but if it is other, how 
can it be real or even an object of consciousness at all, since 
consciousness is only of impressions, stronger or fainter? 
The only consistent way out of the difficulty, as we have 
seen^ is to explain inference as the expectation of the recur- 

> See above, paragraphs 184 & 18d. * Pp. 376 & 388. 


vence of a feeling felt before, through which the nnknowD 
becomes known merely in the sense that from the repetition 
of the recurrence the expectation has come to amount to the 
fullest assurance. But according to this explanation the 
difference between the inferences of the savage and those of 
the man of science will lie, not in the objects inferred, but 
in the strength of the expectation that constitutes the 
inference* Meanwhile, if a semblance of explanation has 
been given for the inference from cause to effect, that from 
efBsct to cause remains quite in the dark. How can there 
be inference from a given feeling to that felt immediately 
before it ? 
Not fleeing 830. From the avowal of such paradoxical results, Hume 
h^'t^tt^* only saved himself by reverting, as in the passage before us, 
plain in- to the popular view — ^to the distinction between two * systems 
latter^ys- ^^ reality,' one perceived, the other inferred ; one * the object 
tern as of the senscs and memory,' the other 'of the judgment' 
fnrced^^^ He seos that if the educated man erased from his knowledge 
upon VLB by of the world all ^ feicts ' but those for which he has * the evi- 
^^^^ dence of his senses and memory,' his world would be un* 
peopled ; but he has not the key to the true identity between 
the two systems. Not recognizing the inference already in- 
volved in a fact of sense or memory, he does not see that it 
is only a further articulation of this inference which gives 
the fact of judgment ; that as the simplest tsLGt for which 
we have the ' evidence of sense ' is already not a feeling but 
an explanation of a feeling, which connects it by relations, 
that are not feelings, with an unfelt universe, so inferred 
causes and effects are explanations of these explanations, by 
which they are connected as mutually determinant in the 
one world whose presence the simplest fact, the most primary 
explanation of feeling, supposes no less than the most com- 
plete. Not seeing this, what is he to make of the system 
of merely inferred realities 9 He will represent the relation 
of cause and effect, which connects it with the ' system of 
memory,' as a habit derived from the constant de facto 
sequence of this or that ' inferred ' upon this or that remem- 
bered idea. The mind, ' feeling ' the unchangeableness of 
this habit, regards the idea, which in virtue of it follows 
upon the impression of memory, as equally real with that im- 
pression. In this he finds an answer to the two questions 
which he himself raises : (a) ' Why is it that we draw no 


inference from one object to another, except they be con- 
nected by the relation of cause and efPect;' or (which is the 
same, since inference to an object implies the ascription of 
reality to it), * Why is this relation requisite to persuade us 
of any real existence ?' and (6), * How is it that tiie relations 
of resemblance and contiguity haye not the same effect?' 
The answer to the first is, that we do not ascribe reality to 
an idea recalled by an impression, unless we find that, owing 
to its customary sequence upon the impression, we cannot 
help passing from the one to the other. The answer to the 
second corresponds. The contiguity of an idea to an im- 
pression, if it has been repeated often enough and without 
any ' arbitrary ' action on our part, is the relation of cause 
and effect, and thus does 'persuade us of real existence.' 
A ' feigned ' contiguity, on the other hand, because we are 
conscious that it is ' of our mere good- will and pleasure ' 
that we giye the idea that relation to the impression, can 
produce no belief. * There is no reason why, upon the 
return of the same impression, we should be determined to 
place the same object in the same relation to it.' ^ In like 
manner we must suppose (though this is not so clearly 
stated) that when an impression — such as the sight of a 
picture — calls up a resembling idea (that of the man de- 
picted) with much vivacity, it does not ' persuade us of his 
real existence ' because we are conscious that it is by the 
' mere good- will and pleasure ' of some one that the likeness 
has been produced. 

331. Now this account has the fault of being inconsistent But if m, 
with Hume's primary doctrine, inasmuch as it makes the .'«y»tem of 
real an object of thought in distinction from feeling, with- mJTi^- 
out the merit of explaining the extension of knowledge fist of feel- 
beyond the objects of sense and memory. It turns upon a ISf^t^'^Jx. 
conception of the real, as the unchangeable, which the sue- perienoeds 
cession of feelings, in endless variety, neither is nor could 
suggest. It implies that not in themselves, but as repre- 
senting such an unchangeable, are the feelings which ' return 
on us whether we will or no,' regarded as real. The peculiar 
sequence of one idea on another, which is supposed to con- 
stitute the relation of cause and effect, is not, according to 
ibia description of it, a sequence of feelings simply ; it is a 

> P. 409. 


sequence reflected on, found to be unchangeable, and thus 
to entitle the sequent idea to the prerogative of reality 
previously awarded (but only by the admission as real of the 
' fiction ' of distinct continued existence) to the system of 
memoiy. But while the identification of the real ynih 
feeling is thus in effect abandoned, in saving the appearance 
of retaining it, Hume makes his explanation of the * system 
of judgment ' futile for its purpose. He saves the appear- 
ance by intimating that the relation of cause and effect, by 
which the inferred idea is connected with the idea of memory 
and derives reality from it, is only the repeated sequence of 
the one idea upon the other, of the less lively feelings npon 
the more lively, or a habit that results from such repetition. 
But if the sequence of the inferred idea upon the other must 
have been so often repeated in order to the existence of the 
relation which renders the inference possible, the inferred 
idea can be no new one, but must itself be an idea of memory, 
and the question, how any one's knowledge comes to extend 
beyond the range of his memory, remains unanswered, 
which only 332. What Hume himself seems to mean us to understand 
remem-'^"* is, that the inferred idea is one of imagination, as distinct 
bered feel- from memory ; and that the characteristic of the relation of 
xnuch^aT causc and effect is that through it ideas of imagination 
thwirUve- acquire the reality that would otherwise be confined to 
fi^^**** impressions of sense and memory. But, according to him. 
Bat how ideas of imagination only differ from those of memory in 
can it have rcspect of their less liveliness, and of the freedom with which 
theyhava ^® ^^*"^ combine ideas in imagination that have not been 
b<>en con- given together as impressions. ^ Now the latter difference 
'**ted?'^ is in this case out of the question. A compound idea of 
imagination, in which simple ideas are put together that 
have never been felt together, can clearly never be connected 
with an impression of sense or memory by a relation derived 
from constant experience of the sequence of one upon the 
other, and specially opposed to the creations of * caprice.'* 
We are left, then, to the supposition that the inferred idea, 
as idea of imagination, is one originally given as an impres- 
sion of sense, but of which the liveliness has faded and 
requires to be revived by association in the way of cause and 
effect with one that has retained the liveliness proper to an 

> Part L, sec. 3 ; cfl note on p. 416. ' P. 409. 

CAN INFEHENCE give new knowledge? 285 

idea of metnory. Then the question recurs, how the 
rostoration of its liveliness bj association with an impres- 
sion, on which it mast have been constantly sequent in 
order that the association may be possible, is compatible 
with the fact that its liveliness has faded. And however 
thiR question may be dealt mth, if the relation of cause and 
effect is merely custom, the extension of knowledge by 
means of it remains unaccounted for ; the breach between 
the expectation of the recurrence of familiar feelings and 
inductive science remains unfilled ; Locke's ^ suspicion ' that 
' a science of nature is impossible,' instead of being over- 
come, is elaborated into a system. 

333. Thus inference, according to Hume's account of it inference 
as originating in habit, suffers from a weakness quite as ^^^ <^^ 
fatal as that which he supposes to attach to it if accounted new^oir- 
for as the work of reason. ^The work of reason' to a ^^^ 
follower of Locke meant either the mediate perception of 
likeness between ideas, which the discovery of cause or 
effect cannot be; or else syllogism, of which Locke had 
shown once for all that it could yield no ^ instructive proposi- 
tions.' But if an idea arrived at by that process could be 
neither new nor real — ^not new, because we must have been 
familiar with it before we put it into the compound idea 
from which we * deduce ' it ; not real, because it has not the 
liveliness either of sensation or of memory — the idea in- 
ferred according to Hume's process, however real with the 
reality of liveliness, is certainly not new. ^ If this means ' 
(the modem logician may perhaps reply), ^ that according to 
Hume no new phenomenon can be given by inference, he 
was quite right in thinking so. K the object of inference 
were a separate phenomenon, it would be quite true that it 
must have been repeatedly perceived before it could be in- 
ferred, and that thus inference would be nugatory. But 
inference is in fact not to such an object, but to a uniform 
relation of certain phenomena in the way of co-existence 
and sequence ; and what Hume may be presumed to mean 
is not that every such relation must have been perceived 
before it can be inferred, much less that it must have been 
perceived so constantly that an appearance of the one phe- 
nomenon causes instinctive expectation of the other, but (a) 
that the phenomena themselves must have been given by 
immediate perception, and {h) that the conception of a law 


of causation, in virtue of which a nnifonnity of relation be- 
tween them is inferred from a single instance of it, is itself 
the result of an ^'inductio per enumerationem simplicem,'' of 
the accumulated experience of generations that the same 
sequents follow the same antecedents.' 
Nor does 334. At the point which our discussion has reached, few 
meaTfchat^ words should be wanted to show that thus to interpret 
it cannot Hume is to read into him an essentially alien theory, which 
DBw phe^ has doubtless grown out of his, but only by a process of 
nomena, adaptation which it needs a principle the opposite of his to 
CM prove J^^^y* Hume, according to his own profession, knows of 
relations, no objects but impressions and ideas — feelings stronger or 
uni^o^^ more faint — of no reality which it needs thought, as distinct 
between ' from feeling, to constitute. But a uniform relation between 
phenome- phenomena is neither impression nor idea, and can only 
exist for thought. He could not therefore admit inference 
to such relation as to a real existence, without a double con- 
tradiction, nor does he ever explicitly do so. He never 
allows that inference is other than a transition to a certain 
sort of feeling, or that it is other than the work of imagina- 
tion, the weakened sense, as enlivened by custom to a 
degree that puts it almost on a level with sense ; which im- 
Snch adis- plies that in every case of inference the inferred object is 
a^s^^bie '"^^ * uniform relation — for how can there be an image of 
with Home, uniform relation P — and that it is something which has been 
repeatedly and without exception perceived to follow another 
before it can be inferred. Even when in violation of his 
principle he has admitted a ' system of memory' — a system of 
things which have been felt, but which are not feelings, 
stronger or fainter, and which are what they are ovlj 
through relation — he still in effect, as we have seen, makes 
the * system of judgment,' which he speaks of as inferred 
from it, only the double of it. To suppose that, on ihe 
strength of a general inference, itself the result of habit^ in 
regard to the uniformity of nature, particular inferences may 
be made which shall be other than repetitions of a sequence 
already habitually repeated, is, if there can be degrees of 
contradiction, even more incompatible with Hume's prin- 
ciples than to suppose such inferences without it. If a uni- 
formity of relation between particular phenomena is neither 
impression nor idea, even less so is the system of all 


886. There is language, however, in the chapters on ^ Pro- His di»- 
babiUty of Chances and of Causes,' which at first sight might ^^^^"^ ^' 
seem to warrant the ascription of such a supposition to biUtjaf 
Hume. According to the distinction which he inherited ^^ 
from Locke all inference to or from causes or effects, since that of 
it does not consist in any comparison of the related ideas,. ^^^ 
should be merely probable. And as such he often speaks of seem to 
it. His originality lies in his effort to explain what Locke ^^^^^^^J' 
had named ; in his treating that * something not joined on nature, as 
both sides to, and so not showing the agreement or disagree- deteram- 
ment of, the ideas under consideration' which yet ^ makes me ence. 
believe,'* definitely as Habit. But *in common discourse,' 
as he remarks, ^we readily affirm that many arguments from 
causation exceed probability;" the explanation being that in 
these cases the habit which determines the transition from 
impression to idea is ^full and perfect.' There has been 
enough past experience of the immediate sequence of the 
one * perception ' on the other to form the habit, and there 
has been no exception to it. In these cases the ' assurance,' 
though distinct from knowledge, may be fitly styled ^ proof,' 
the term ^ probability ' being confined to those in which the 
assurance is not complete. Hume thus comes to use ^ proba- 
bility' as equivalent to incompleteness of assurance, and in 
this sense speaks of it as ^derived either from imperfect 
experience, or from contrary causes, or from analogy.' • It is 
derived from analogy when the present impression, which is 
needed to give vivacity to the * related idea,' is not perfectly 
like the impressions with which the idea has been previously 
found united ; ^ from contrary causes,' when there have been 
exceptions to the immediate sequence or antecedence of the 
one perception to the other ; * from imperfect experience ' 
when, though there have been no exceptions, there has 
not been enough experience of the sequence to form a 
'full and perfect habit of transition.' Of this last 'species 
of probability,' Hume says that it is a kind which, * though 
it naturally takes place before any entire proof can exist, 
yet no one who is arrived at the age of maturity can 
any longer be acquainted with. 'Tis true, nothing is more 
common than for people of the most advanced knowledge 
to have attained only an imperfect experience of many 

' Locke. 4, 16, 3. • P. 423. • P. 439. 


particular eyents ; whicli natarallj produces only an imper- 
fect habit and transition ; but then we must consider that 
the mind, having formed another observation concerning the 
connexion of causes and effects, gives new force to its reason- 
ing fix>m that observation $ and by means of it can build an 
argument on one single experiment, when duly prepared and 
examined. What we have found once to follow from any 
object we conclude will for ever follow from it; and if this 
maxim be not always built upon as certain, 'tis not for want 
of a sufficient number of experiments, but because we fre- 
quently meet mth instances to the contrary ' — ^which give 
rise to the other sort of weakened assurance or probability^ 
that from ^ contrary causes/ * 
But this 386. There is a great difference between the meaning 

he^only"*'* which the above passage conveys when read in the light of 
professes the accepted logic of science, and that which it conveys 
on^Mo "* ^^^^ interpreted consistently with the theory in the state- 
explain it ment of which it occurs. WTiether Hume, in writing as he 
•^*y« does of that conclusion from a single experiment, which our 
observation concerning the connexion of cause and effect 
enables us to draw, understood himself to be expressing his 
own theory or merely using the received language provision- 
ally, one cannot be sure ; but it is certain that such language 
can only be justified by those 'maxims of philosophers' 
which it is the purpose or effect of his doctrine to explain 
away — in particular the maxims that ' the connexion between 
all causes and effects is equally necessary and that its seem- 
ing imcertainty in some instances proceeds from the secret 
opposition of contrary causes;' and that *what the vulgar 
call chance is but a concealed cause.' ' These maxims repre- 
sent the notion that the law of causation is objective and 
universal; that all seeming limitations to it, all 'probable 
and contingent matter,' are the reflections of our ignorance, 
and exist merely ex parte nostrd. In other words, they re- 
present the notion of that ' continued existence distinct from 
our perceptions,' which with Hume is a phrase generated by 
'propensities to feign.' Tet he does not profess to reject 
them ; nay, he handles them as if they were his own, but 
after a very little of his manipulation they are so ' translated' 
that they would not know themselves. Because philosophers 

> Pp. 429 & 430. * Ibid. 


* allow that what the vulgar call chance is nothing but a con- 
cealed cause,' * probability of causes ' and ' probability of 
chances' may be taken as equivalent. But chance, as 

* merely negation of a cause,' has been previously ex- 
plained, on the supposition that causation means a * perfect 
habit of imagination,' to be the absence of such habit— the 
state in which imagination is perfectly indifferent in regard 
to the transition from a given impression to an idea, because 
the transition has not been repeated often enough to form 
even the beginning of a habit. Such being mere chance, 

* probability of chances ' means a state of imagination between 
the perfect indifference and that perfect habit of transition, 
which is * necessary connexion.' ' Probability of causes' is 
the same thing. Its strength or weakness depends simply on 
the proportion between the number of experiments (^each 
experiment being a kind of chance ') in which A has been 
found to immediately follow B, and the number of those in 
which it has noL^ Mere chance, probability, and causation 
then are equally states of imagination. The * equal necessity 
of the connexion between all causes and effects ' means not 
that any * law of causation pervades the universe,' but that, 
unless the habit of transition between any feelings is 'full and 
perfect,' we do not speak of these feelings as related in the 
way of cause and effect. 

837. Interpreted consistently with this doctrine, the pas- Laws oi 
sage quoted in the last paragraph but one can only mean n*tiiw are 
that^ when a man has arrived at maturity, his experience of fled habit* 
the sequence of feelings cannot fail in quantity. He must ofexpec- 
have had experience enough to form not only a perfect habit 
of transition from any impression to the idea ot its usual 
attendant, but a habit which would aqt upon us even in the 
case of novel events, and lead us after a single experiment oi 
a sequence coniidently to- expect its recurrence, if only the 
experience had been uniform. It is because it has not been 
80, that in many cases the habit of transition is still imper- 
fect, and the sequence of A on B not * proven,' but * probable.' 
The probability then which affects the imagination of the 
matured man is of the sort that arises Irom * contrary 
causes,' as distinct from * imperfect experience.' This is all 
that the passage in question can fairly mean. Such * proba- 

» Pp. 424-428, 432 434. 
VOL. I. U 


bility * cannot become * proof,' or the ^ imperfect habit/ 
perfect, bj discovery of any necessary connexion or law of 
causation, for the perfect habit of transition, the imagination 
enlivened to the maximum by custom, is the law of causation. 
The formation of the habit constitutes the law : to discover 
it would be to discover what does not yet exist. The incom- 
pleteness of the habit in certain directions, the limitation of 
our assurance to certain sequences as distinct from others, 
must be equally a limitation to the universality of the law. 
It is impossible then that on the faith of the universality 
of the law we should seek to extend the range of that 
assurance which is identical with it. Our * observation con- 
cerning the connexion of causes and effects ' merely means 
the sum of our assured expectations, founded on habit, at 
any given time, and that on the strength of this we should 
* prepare an experiment,' with a view to assuring ourselves 
of a universal sequence from a single instance, is as unac- 
countable as that, given the instance, the assurance should 
Kxperi- 3^8. The case then stands thus. In order to make the 

ence, ac- required distinction between inference to real existence and 
hu account ^^ lively Suggestion of an idea, Hume has to graft on his 
ofit,cannoi theory the alien notion of an objective system, an order of 
of know-"^^ nature, represented by ideas of memory, and on the strength 
ledge. of such a uotion to interpret a transition from these ideas to 
others, because we cannot help making it, as an objective 
necessity. Of such alien notion and interpretation he avails 
himself in his definition (understood as he means it to be 
understood) of cause as a * natural relation.' * But he had 
not the boldness of his later disciples. Though he could be 
inconsistent so far, he could not be inconsistent far enough 
to make his theory of inference fit the practice of natural 
philosophers. Bound by his doctrine of ideas as copied from 
^ impressions, he can give no account of inferred ideas that 
shall explain the extension of knowledge beyond the expect- 
ation that we shall feel again what we have felt already. It 
was not till another theory of experience was forthcoming 
than that given by the philosophers who were most fond of 
declaring their devotion to it, that the procedure of science 
could be justified. The old philosophy, we are often truly 

See above, paragraph 317. 


told, had been barren for want of contact with fact. It 

sought truth by a process which really consisted in evolving 

the ^ connotation ' of general names. The new birth came 

when the mind had learnt to leave the idols of the tribe and 

cave, and to cleave solely to experience. H the old philosophy, j 

however, was superseded by science, science itself required i 

a new philosophy to answer the question. What constitutes i 

experience? It was in effect to answer this question that ', 

Locke and Hume wrote, and it is the condemnation of their i 

doctrine that, according to it, experience is not a possible 

parent of science. It is not those, we know, who cry 

* Lord, Lord ! ' the loudest, that enter into the kingdom of 
heaven, nor does the strongest assertion of our dependence 
on experience imply a true insight into its nature. Hume 
has found acceptance with men of science as the great ex- 
ponent of the doctrine that there can be no new knowledge 
without new experience. It has not been noticed that with 
him such ^ new experience * could only mean a further repe- 
tition of familiar feelings, and that if it means more to his 
followers, it is only because they have been less faithful than 
he was to that antithesis between thought and reality which 
they are not less loud in asserting. 

339. From the point that our enquiry has reached, we can His atti- 
anticipate the line which Hume could not but take in regard Jj'^^?^ 
to Self and God. His scepticism lay ready to his hand in the txine of 
incompatibility between the principles of Locke and that t^^^kinR 
doctrine of * linking substance,' which Locke and Berkeley 
alike maintained. If the reader will revert to the previous 
part of this introduction, in which that doctrine was dis- 
cussed,^ he will find it equally a commentary upon those 
sections of the * Treatise on Human Nature * which deal with 

* immateriality of the soul ' and * personal identity.* Sub- 
stance, we saw, alike as ^ extended ' and as ^ thinking,' was a 

* creation of the mind,' yet real ; something of which there 
was an ^ idea,' but of which nothing could be said but that it 
was not an * idea.' The ^ thinking ' substance, moreover, was 
at a special disadvantage in contrast with the ^ extended,' 
because, in the first place, it could not, like body, be repre- 
sented as given to consciousness in the feeling of solidity, and 
secondly it was not wanted. It was a mere double of the 

» Above, paragraphs 127-135, 144-146, & 192. 
u 2 

each other, 


extended substance to which, as the 'something wherein 
they do subsist and from which they do result,' our 
ideas had already been referred. Having no conception^ 
then, of Spirit or Self before him but that of the thinking 
substance, of which Berkeley had confessed that it was not a 
possible idea or object of an idea, Hume had only to apply 
the method, by which Berkeley himself had disposed of ex- 
tended substance, to get rid of Spirit likewise. This could 
be done in a sentence,^ but having done it, Hume is at 
further pains to show that immateriality, simplicity, and 
identity cannot be ascribed to the soul ; as if there were a soul 
left to which anything could be ascribed. 
As to Im- 340. There were two ways of conceiving the soul as im- 
it**o?^e ^^^^^y ^f which Hume was cognizant. One, current 
Soul, he among the theologians and ordinary Cartesians and adopted 
plays off by Locke, distinguishing extension and thought as severally 
Borkeley divisible and indivisible, supposed separate substances — 
!Sk°^k-» matter and the soul — to which these attributes, incapable of 
* local conjunction,' severally belonged. The other, Berkeley's, 
having ostensibly reduced extended matter to a succession 
of feelings, took the exclusion of all * matter* to which 
thought could be 'joined' as a proof that the soul was im- 
material. Hume, with cool ingenuity, turns each doctrine 
to account against the other. From Berkeley he accepts 
the reduction of sensible things to sensations. Our feelings 
do not represent extended objects other than themselves; 
but we cannot admit this without acknowledging the con- 
•sequence, as Berkeley himself implicitly did,* that certain 
of our impressions — those of sight and touch — are themselves 
extended. What then becomes of the doctrine, that the 
soul must be immaterial because thought Ib not extended, 
and cannot be joined to what is so? Thought means the 
succession of impressions. Of these some, though the 
smaller number, are actually extended ; and those that are 
not so are united to those that are by the ' natural relations ' 
of resemblance and of contiguity in time of appearance, and 
by the consequent relation of cause and effect.* The rela- 
tion of local conjunction, it is true, can only obtain between 
impressions which are alike extended. The ascription of it to 
such as are unextended arises from the ^ propensity in human 

• P. 617. « See abore. pir. 177, • Pp. 620-621. 


nature, when objects are united by any relation, to add some 
new relation in order to complete the union.' ' This ad- 
mission, however, can yield no triumph to those who hold 
that thought can only be joined to a ^ simple and indivisible 
substance.' If the existence of uneztended impressions 
requires the supposition of a thinking substance ' simple and 
indivisible/ the existence of extended ones must equally 
imply a thinking substance that has all the properties of 
extended objects. If it is absurd to suppose that perceptions 
which are unextended can belong to a substance which is 
extended, it is equally absurd to suppose that perceptions 
which are extended can belong to a substance that is not 
so. Thus Berkeley's criticism has indeed prevailed against and prolan 
the vulgar notion of a material substance as opposed to a g^f^^L* 
thinking one, but meanwhile he is himself ' hoist with his 
own petard.' If that thinking substance, the survival of 
which was the condition of his theory serving its theological 
purpose,' is to survive at all, it can only be as equivalent 
to Spinoza's substance, in which ' both matter and thought 
were supposed to inhere.' The universe of our experience 
— ' the sun, moon, and stars ; the earth, seas, plants, animals, 
men, ships, houses, and other productions, either of art or 
nature ' — is the same universe when it is called * the universe 
of objects or of body,' and when it is called ' the universe of 
thought, or of impressions and ideas ; ' but to hold, according 
to Spinoza's * hideous hypothesis,' that * the universe of ob- 
jects or of body' inheres in one simple uncompounded 
substance, is to rouse ' a hundred voices of scorn and detes- 
tation;' while the same hypothesis in i-egard to khe ^universe 
of impressions and ideas' is treated 'with applause and 
veneration.' It was to save Qod and Immortality that the 
* great philosopher,' who had found the true way out of 
the scholastic absurdity of abstract ideas,* had yet clung to 
the 'unintelligible chimeera' of thinking substance; and 
after all, in doing so, he fell into a ' true atheism,' indistin- 
guishable from that which had rendered the unbelieving 
Jew ' so universally infamous.'^ 

341. The supposition of spiritual substance being thus CanBality 
at once absurd, and of a tendency the very opposite of the ^ "P"** 

> P. 521. • See page 325. 

* See aboye, paragraphs 191 and foil. * Pp. 523-526. 



treated in purpose it was meant to serve, can anything better be said 
th6^«ame f^j^ ^^ supposition of a spiritual cause? It was to the 
representation of spirit as cause rather than as substance, 
it will be remembered, that both Locke and Berkeley trusted 
for the establishment of a Theism which should not be 
Pantheism.* Locke, in his demonstration of the being of 
God, trusted for proof of a first cause to the inference from 
that which begins to exist to something having power to 
produce it, and to the principle of necessary connexion — 
connexion in the way of agreement of ideas — ^between cause 
and effect for proof that this first cause must be immaterial, 
even as its effect, viz. our thought, is. Hume's doctrine of 
causation, of course, renders both sides of the demonstration 
unmeaning. Inference being only the suggestion by a 
feeling of the image of its ^ usual attendant,' there can be 
no inference to that which is not a possible image of an im- 
pression. Nor, since causation merely means the constant 
conjunction of impressions, and there is no such contrariety 
between the impression we call ^ motion of matter ' and that 
we call * thought,' any more than between anv other im- 
pressions,^ as is incompatible with their constant conjunction, 
is there any reason why we should set aside the hourly ex- 
perience, which tells us that bodily motions are the cause of 
thoughts and sentiments. If, however, there were that 
necessary connexion between effect and cause, by which 
Locke sought to show the spirituality of the first cause, it 
would really go to show just the reverse of infinite power 
in such cause. It is from our impressions and ideas that 
we are supposed to infer this cause; but in these — as 
Berkeley had shpwn, and shown as his way of proving the 
existence of God — ^there is no eflScacy whatever. They ai-e 
* inert.' If then the cause must agree with the effect, the 
Supreme Being, as the cause of our impressions and ideas, 
must be * inert' likewise. If, on the other hand, with 
Berkeley we cling to the notion that there must be e£Scient 
power somewhere, and having excluded it from the relation 

* See aboTe, {{ 147, 171> 193. in eertaip leading passages allow him- 

« There is no contrariety, according pelf to speak of contrariety between 

to Hume, except between existence and idms (e.ff. pp. 494 and 536), which is 

non-existence (p. 323) and as all im- incidental evidence that the ideas thero 

pressions and ideas equally exist (p. treated of are not so, according to his 

394), there can be no contrariety bo- account of ideas, at all 
tween any of them. He docs indeed 


of ideas to each other or of matter to ideas, find it in the 
direct relation of God to ideas, we fall * into the grossest 
impieties ;' for it will follow that God ^is the author of all 
our volitions and impressions.' * 

342. Against the doctrine of a real * identity of the self or Dispoaea 
person' Hume had merely to exhibit the contradictions g^,]^^^^^„. 
which Locke's own statement of it involves.' To have tity by 
transferred this identity definitely from < matter' to con- ^^^^.^^ 
sciousness was in itself a great merit, but, so transferred, in tions in 
the absence of any other theory of consciousness than lake's 
Locke's, it only becomes more obviously a fiction. K there it. 

is nothing real but the succession of feelings, identity of 
body, it is true, disappears as inevitably as identity of mind ; 
and so we have already found it to do in Hume.* But 
whereas the notion of a unity of body throughout the suc- 
cession of perceptions only becomes contradictory through 
the medium of a reduction of body to a succession of per- 
ceptions, the identity of a mind, which has been already 
defined as a succession of perceptions, is a contradiction in 
terms. There can be * properly no simplicity in it at one 
time, nor identity at different ; it is a kind of theatre where 
several perceptions successively make their appearance.' But 
this comparison must not mislead us. * They are the suc- 
cessive perceptions only, that constitute the mind ; nor have 
we the most distant notion of the place where these scenes 
are represented, or of the materials of which it is composed.' 
The problem for Hume then in regard to personal, as 
it had been in regard to bodily, identity is to account for 
that ^natural propension to imagine' it which language 

343. The method of explanation in each case is the same. Y«»tcaD 
He starts with two suppositions, to neither of which he is ^^nt^for 
logically entitled. One is that we have a ^distinct idea of it as a ^ 
identity or sameness,' t.e. of an object that remains invari- '^^g^^. 
able and uninterrupted through a supposed variation of time' posing 
— a supposition which, as we have seen, upon his principles ^®?*j^ 
must mean that a feeling, which is one in a succession of with him 
feelings, is yet all the successive feelings at once. The other a?j* »"»!><»»• 

> Pp. 529-531, a commentary on * See above, §§ 134 and folk 

the argament here given has been in " See above, §| 30ft a»d foli 

effect supf)tied in paragraphs 148-152, 
and 194. 


is that we have an idea ^ of several different objects existing 
in succession, and connected together by a close ' (natoral) 
'relation' — which in like manner implies that a feeling, 
which is one among a succession of feelings, is at the same 
time a consciousness of these feelings as successive and 
under that qualification by mutual relation which implies 
their equal presence to it. These two ideas, which in truth 
are ^ distinct and even contrary,' ^ we yet come to confuse with 
each other, because 'that action of the imagination, by 
which we consider the uninterrupted and invisible object, 
and that by which we reflect on the succession of related 
objects, are almost the same to the feeling.' Thus, though 
what we call our mind is really a * succession of related ob- 
jects,' we have a strong propensity to mistake it for an ' in- 
variable and uninterrupted object.' To this propensity we 
at last so far yield as to assert our successive perceptions to 
be in effect the same, however interrupted and variable ; and 
then, by way of 'justifying to ourselves this absurdity, feign 
the continued existence of the perceptions of our senses, to 
remove the interruption ; and run into the notion of a soul, 
and %df^ and vuh%i(mce^ to disguise the variation.'* 
In origin 344. It will be seen that the theory, which we have just 
tion' the summarised, would merely be a briefer version of that given 
Mme aa in the section on ' Scepticism with regard to the Senses,' if 
•^^^^' in the sentence, which states its conclusion, for 'the notion 
^' of a soul and self and substance ' were written ' the notion of 
a double existence of perceptions and objects.' • To a reader 
who has not thoroughly entered into the fusion of being and 
feeling, which belongs to the ' new way of ideas,' it may 
seem strange that one and the same process of so-called 
confusion has to account for such apparently disparate results, 
as the notion of a permanently identical self and that of the 
distinct existence of body. If he bears in mind, however, 
that with Hume the universe of our experience is the same 
when it is called ' the universe of objects or of body ' and 
when it is called the * universe of thought or my impressions 
and ideas,' ^ he will see that on the score of consistency 
Hume is to be blamed, not for applying the same method to 
account for the fictions of material and spiritual identity, 
but for allowing himself, in his preference for physical, as 

> Sm notA to I 341. * Above, {{ 30(U810. 

• Pp. 636-686. « AboTP, § 340. 


HUME REFUl'ES^SlftiJjfiEPP^ ^' 297 

against theological, pretension, to write as if the supposition 
of spiritnal were really distinct from that of material iden- 
tity, and might be more contemptuously disposed of. The 
original 'mistake/ out of which according to him the two 
fictitioas suppositions arise, is one and the same ; and though 
it is a ' mistake ' without which, as we haye found ^ from 
Hume^s own admissions, we could not speak even in singular 
propositions of the most ordinary ' objects of sense ' — this 
pen, this table, this chair — ^it is yet one that on his princi- 
ples is logically impossible, since it consists in a confusion 
between ideas that we cannot have. Of this original ' mis- 
take ' the fictions of body and of its ' continued and distinct 
existence ' are but altered expressions. They represent in 
truth the same logical category of substance and relation. 
And of the Self according to Locke's notion of it* (which was 
the only one that Hume had in view), as a * thinking thing ' 
within each man among a multitude of other thinking things, 
the same would have to be said. But in order to account 
for the * mistake,' of which the suppositions of thinking and 
material substance are the correlative expressions, and which 
it is the net result of Hume's speculation to exhibit at once 
as necessary and as impossible, we have found another notion 
of the self forced upon us — not as a double of body, but as 
the source of that * familiar theory ' which body in truth is, 
and without which there would be no imiverse of objects, 
whether * bodies ' or * impressions and ideas,' at all. 

846. Thus the more strongly Hume insists that *the PoMibiiity 
identity which we ascribe to the mind of man is only a fictltioiia 
fictitious one,'' the more completely does his doctrine refute ideas im- 
itself. K he had really succeeded in reducing those ^in- j^i^n'^^^' 
vented ' relations, which Locke had implicitly recognised as Hume's 
the framework of tlie universe, to what he calls * natural ' ^^o^*^"*- 
ones — ^to mere sequences of feeling — the case would have been 
different. With the disappearance of the conception of the 
world as a system of related elements, the necessity of a 
thinking subject, without whose presence to feelings they 
could not become such elements, would have disappeared 
likewise. But he cannot so reduce them. In all his attempts 
to do so we find that the relation, which has to be explained 
away, is pre-supposed under some other expression, and that 

" Above, f J 303 & 304. « Abore, §§ 129-132. « P. 640. 


it is * fictitious ' not in the sense wliicli Hume's theory re- 
quires — ^the sense, namely, that there is no such thing either 
really or in imagination, either as impression or idea — but 
in the sense that it would not exist if we did not think about 
our feelings. Thus, whereas identity ought for Hume's 
purpose to be either a ^ natural relation,' or a propensity 
arising from such relation, or nothing, we find that accord- 
ing to his account, though neither natural relation nor pro- 
pensity, it yet exists both as idea and as reality. He saves 
appearances indeed by saying^ that natural relations of ideas 

* produce it,' but they do so, according to his detailed 
account of the matter, in the sense that, the idea of an 
identical object being given, we mistake our successive 
and resembling feelings for such an object. In other words, 
the existence of numerically identical things is a ' fiction,' 
not as if there were no such things, but because it implies 
a certain operation of thought upon our feelings, a certain 
interpretation of impressions under dii-ection of an idea not 
derived from impressions. By a like equivocal use of * fiction ' 
Hume covers the admission of real identity in its more com- 
plex forms — the identity of a mass, whose parts undergo 
perpetual change of distribution ; of a body whose form 
survives not merely the redistribution of its materials, but 
the substitution of others; of animals and vegetables, in 
which nothing but the 'common end' of the changing 
members remains the same. The reality of such identity of 
mass, of form, of organism, he quietly takes for granted.* 
He calls it * fictitious ' indeed, but only either in the sense 
above given or in the sense that it is mistaken for mere nu- 
merical identity. 

346. After he has thus admitted, as constituents of the 

♦ universe of objects,' a whole hierarchy of ideas of which 
the simple&t must vanish before the demand to ^ point out 
the impression from which it is derived,' we are the less 
surprised to find him pronouncing in conclusion ' that the 
true idea of the human mind is to consider it as a system 
of diflferent perceptions or different existences, which are 

' P. 543. ' Identitj depends on the they oonsiBt ; ' since, according to Hnme, 

relations of ideas ; and these relations the * easiness of transition ' is not an 

produce identity by means of that easy effect of natural relation, but constitutes 

transition they occasion.' Strictly it it. Of. pp. 322 & 497, and above, §318. 
should be 'that easy tfansition in which ^ Pp. 636-638. 


linked together by the relation of cause and effect, and mu- 
tually produce, destroy, influence and modify each other.' ' 
A better definition than this, as a definition of natv/rey or one 
more charged with ^ fictions of thought,' could scarcely be 
desired. If the idea of such a system is a true idea at all, 
which we are only wrong in confusing with mere numerical 
identity, we need be the less concerned that it should be 
adduced as the true idea not of nature but of the ^ human 
mind.' Having learnt, through the discipline which Hume 
himself furnishes, that the recognition of a system of nature 
logically carries with it that of a self-conscious subject, in 
relation to which alone * different perceptions' become a 
system of nature, we know that we cannot naturalise the 

* human mind ' without presupposing that which is neither 
nature nor natural, though apart from it nature would not be 
— that of which the designation as * mind,' as * human,' as 

* personal,' is of secondary importance, but which is eternal 
self-determined, and thinks. 

> P. 641. 


1. In his speculation on morals, no less than on knowledge, Hnmefe 
Hnme follows the lines laid down by Locke. With ea<;h ^^^^ ""^ 
there is a precise correspondence between the doctrine of parallel 
nature and the doctrine of the good. Each gives an account *j^ . 
of reason consistent at least in this that, as it allows reason nature. 
no place in the constitution of real objects, so it allows it 

none in the constitution of objects that determine desire and, 
through it, the will. With each, consequently, the * moral 
faculty,' whether regarded as the source of tiie judgments 

* ought and ought not,* or of acts to which these judgments 
are appropriate, can only be a certain faculty of feeling, a 
particular susceptibility of pleasure and pain. The originality 
of Hume lies in his systematic effort to account for those 
objects, apparently other than pleasure and pain, which de- 
termine desire, and which Locke had taken for granted with- 
out troubling himself about their adjustment to his theory, 
as resulting from the modification of primary feelings by 

* associated ideas.' * Natural relation,' the close and uniform 
sequence of certain impressions and ideas upon each other, 
is the solvent by which in the moral world, as in the world 
of knowledge, he disposes of those ostensibly necessary ideas 
that seem to regulate impressions without being copied from 
them ; and in regard to the one application of it as much as 
to the other, the question is whether the efficiency of the 
solvent does not depend on its secretly including tiie very 
ideas of which it seems to get rid. 

2. The place held by the 'essay concerning Human TJn- It* relation 
derstanding,' as a sort of philosopher's Bible in the last ^ ^^^®- 
century, is strikingly illustrated by the effect of dodtrines that 


Locke's only appear in it incidentally. It does not profess to be an 
J^^jjj^ ethical treatise at all, yet the moral psychology contained in 
will, and the chapter * of Power' {II. 21), and the account of moral 
*^*™*' good and evil contained in the chapter * of other Eelations * 
(II. 28), furnished the text for most of the ethical speculation 
that prevailed in England, France, and Scotland for a century 
later. If Locke's theory was essentially a reproduction of 
Hobbes', it was yet in the form he gave it that it survived 
while Hobbes was decried and forgotten. The chapter on 
Power is in eflfect an account of determination by motives. 
More, perhaps, than any other part of the essay it bears the 
marks of having been written *currente calcuno.' In the 
second edition a summary was annexed which differs some- 
what in the use of terms, but not otlierwise, from the original 
draught. The main course of thought, however, is clear 
throughout. Will and freedom are at first defined in all but 
identical terms as each a ' power to begin or forbear action 
barely by a preference of the mind' (§§ 5, 8, 71). Nor is 
this identification departed from, except that the term * will ' 
is afterwards restricted to the * preference' or * power of 
preference,' while freedom is confined to the power of acting 
upon preference ; in which sense it is pointed out that though 
there cannot be freedom without will, there may be will 
without freedom, as when, through the breaking of a bridge, 
a man cannot help falling into the water, though he prefers 
not to do so. * Freedom ' and * will ' being thus alike powers, 
if not the same power, it is as improper to ask whether the 
will is free as whether one power has another power. The 
proper question is whether man is free (§§ 14, 21), and the 
answer to this question, according to Locke, is that within 
certain limits he is free to act, but that he is not free to wiD. 
When in any case he has the option of acting or forbearing 
to act, he cannot help preferring, i.e. willing, one or other 
alternative. If it is further asked. What determines the will 
or preference ? the answer is that * nothing sets us upon any 
new action but some uneasiness ' (§ 29), viz., the * most 
urgent uneasiness we at any time feel ' (§ 40), which again 
is always ^ the uneasiness of desire fixed on some absent good, 
either negative, as indolence to one in pain, or positive, as 
enjoyment of pleasure.' In one sense, indeed, it may be said 
that the will often runs counter to desire, but this merely 
raeaus that we * being in this world beset with sundry un- 


easinesses, distressed with different desires,' the determination 
of the will by the most pressing desire often implies the 
counteraction of other desires which would, indeed, under 
other circumstances, be the most pressing, but at the par- 
ticular time of the supposed action are not so. 

3. So far Locke's doctrine amounts to no more than this. Two 
that action is always determined by th e strongest motive • JS^^n 
and only those who strangely hold that human freedom is to always act 
be vindicated by disputing that truism will care to question J^^^ 
it. To admit that the strongest desire always moves action motiye? 
(there being, in fact, no test of its strength but its effect on ^^^ ^^ 
action) and that, since every desire causes uneasiness till it stitutee hit 
is satisfied, the strongest desire is also the most pressing S^^^i^ 
uneasiness,^ is compatible with the most opposite views as to the 
the constitution of the objects which determine desire. To important 
understand that it is this constitution of the desired object, ^^" ^^°* 
not any possible intervention of unmotived willing between 
the presentation of a strongest motive and action,which forms 
the central question of ethics, is the condition of all clear 
thinking on the subject. It is a question, however, which 
Locke ignores, and popular philosophy, to its great confusion, 
has not only continued to do the same, but would probably 
resent as pedantic any attempt at more accurate analysis. 
When we hear of the strongest * desire ' being the uniform 
motive to action, we have to ask, in the first place, whether 
the term is confined to impulses determined by a prior con- 
sciousness, or is taken to include those impulses, commonly 
called ^ mere appetites,' which are not so determined, but 
depend directly and solely on the * constitution of our bodily 
organs.' The appetite of hunger is obviously quite indepen- 
dent of any remembrance of the pleasure of eating, yet 
nothing is commoner than to identify with such simple 

> Locke's language in regard to ' the to distinguish the desire for fnture 

most pressing uneasiness * will not be pleasure from present uneasiness, while 

found uniformly consistent. His usual at the same time implying that it may 

doctrine is that the strength of a desire, be a strongest motive (Cf. sec. 65). 

as evinced by the resulting action, and But if so, it follows that there may be 

the uneasiness which it causes are in a strongest desire which is not the 

exact proportion to each other. Accord- most pressing uneasiness. (See below, 

ing to this yiew, desire for future happi- sec. 13.) Hume, distinguishing strong 

ness can only become a prevalent firom violent desires, and restricting 

motive when the uneasiness which it 'uneasiness' to the latter, is able to hold 

causes has come to outweigh every that it is not alone the present uneasi- 

other (Cf. Chap, xxi.. Sees. 43 and 45). ness which determines action. (Boos 

On the other hand, ho sometimes seems n., part 3, sec. 3, sub fin.) 



that are, 
and those 
that are 
not, deter- 
mined by 

of self. 

Effect of 



on the 

ob'ects of 



appetite the desire determined by consciousness of some sort, 
as when we say of a drunkard, who never drinks merely 
because he is thirsty, that he is governed by his appetite. 
Upon this distinction, however, since it is recognised by current 
psychology, it is less important to insist than on that between 
the kinds of prior consciousness which may determine desire 
proper. Does this prior consciousness consist simply in the 
return of an image of past pleasure with consequent hope of 
its renewal, or is it a conception — ^the thought of an object 
under relations to self or of self in relation to certain objects 
— in a word, self-consciousness as distinct from simple 
feeling? • 

4. Of desire determined in the former way we have expe- 
rience, if at all, in those motives which actuate us, as we 
say, ^ unconsciously ' ; which means, without our attending 
to them — feelings which we do not fix even momentarily by 
reference to self or to a thing. As we cannot set ourselves 
to recall such feelings without thinking them, without deter- 
mining them by that reference to self which we suppose them 
to exclude, they cannot be described ; but some of our actions 
(such as the instinctive recurrence to a sweet smell), seem 
only to be thus accounted for, and probably those actions of 
animals which do not proceed fi?om appetite proper are to be 
accounted for in the same way. But whether such actions 
are facts in human experience or no, those which make us what 
we are as men are not so determined. The man whom we 
call the slave of his appetite, the enlightened pleasure-hunter, 
the man who lives for his family, the artist, the enthusiast 
for humanity, are alike in this, that the desire which moves 
their action is itself determined not by the recurring image 
of a past pleasure, but by the conception of self. The self 
may be conceived of simply as a subject to be pleased, or may 
be a subject of interests, which, indeed, when gratified, pro- 
duce pleasure but are not produced by it — ^interests in persons, 
in beautifdl things, in the order of nature and society — ^but 
self is still not less the * punctum stans ' whose presence to 
each passing pleasure renders it a constituent of a happiness 
which is to be permanently pursued, than it is the focus in 
which the infiuences of that world which only self-conscious 
reason could constitute — the world of science, of art, of human 
society — must be regathered in order to become the personal 
interests which move the actions of individuals. It is in this 


self-conBciousness involved in our motives, in that conversion 
into a conception by reference to self, which the image even 
of the merest animal pleasure must undergo before it can 
become an element in the formation of character, that the 
possibility of freedom lies. Without it we should be as sinless 
and as unpregressive, as free from remorse and aspiration, 
as incapable of selfishness and self-denial as the animals. 
Each pleasure would be taken as it came. We should have 
'the greatest happiness of which our nature is capable,' 
without possibility of asking ourselves whether we might not 
have had more. It is only the conception of himself as a 
permanent subject to be pleased that can set man upon the 
invention of new pleasures, and then, making each pleasure 
a disappointment when it comes, produce the ' vicious ' tem- 
per ; only thijs that can suggest the reflection how much more 
pleasure he might have had than he has had, and thus pro- 
duce what the moralists know as ' cool selfishness ' ; <nily 
this, on the other hand, which, as * enlightened self-love,' 
perpetually balances the attraction of imagined pleasure by 
the calculation whether it will be good for one as a whole. 
Nor less is it the conception of self, with a ' matter' more 
adequate to its * form,' taking its content not from imagined 
pleasure, but from the work of reason in the world of nature 
and humanity, which determines that personal devotion to a 
work or a cause, to a state, a church, or mankind, which we 
call self-sacrifice. 

5. If, now, we ask ourselves whether Locke recognised this Objecta bo 
function of reaspn, as self-consciousness, in the determination xxxske 
of the will, the answer must be yes and no. His cardinal shouldcon- 
doctrine, as we have sufficiently seen, forbade him to admit ^chide^ 
that reason or thought could originate an object. The only 
possible objects with him are either simple ideas or resoluble 
into these, and the simple idea, as that which we receive in 
pure passivity, is virtually feeling. Now no combination of 
feelings (supposing it possible *) can yield the conception of 
self as a permanent subject even of pleasure, much less as a 
subject of social claims. It cannot, therefore, yield the objects, 
ranging from sensual happiness to the moral law, humanity, 
and God, of which this conception is the correlative condition. 
Thus, strictly taken, Locke's doctrine excludes every motive 
to action, but appetite proper and such desire as is deter- 

» Cf Introduction to Vol. i., §§ 215 aud 247. 
VOL. I. X 


But he mined by the imagination of animal pleasure or pain, and in 
foiMrhem™ ^oing 80 renders vice as well as virtue unaccountable — ^the 
by treating excessive pursuit of pleasure as well as that dissatisfaction 
r^ire for ^^ ^* which affords the possibility of ordinary reform. On 
an object, the Other handy the same happy intellectual unscrupulousness, 
Sb ^ tt^ which we have traced in his theory of knowledge, attends 
ment gives him also here. Just as he is ready on occasion to treat any 
pleaBure^ conceived object that determines sense as if it were itself a 
pleuura. sensation, so he is ready to treat any object that determines 
desire, without reference to the work of .thought in its con- 
struction, as if it were itself the feeling of pleasure, or of 
uneasiness removed, which arises upon satis&ction of the 
desire. In this way, without professedly admitting any 
motive but remembered pleasure — a motive which, if it were 
our only one, would leave * man's life as cheap as beasts' ' — 
he can take for granted any objects of recognised interest as 
accounting for the movement of human life, and as constitu- 
ents of an utmost possible pleasure which it is his own fault 
if every one does not pursue. 
Oonfiision 6. The term ^ happiness ' is the familiar cover for confu- 
^^ ^y sion between the animal imagination of pleasure and the 
'happmeetf conception of personal well-being. It is so when --having 
the general raised the question. What moves desire? — Locke answers, 
desire. ' happiness, and that alone.' What, then, is happiness? 

* Good and evU are nothing but pleasure and pain,' and 
^ happiness in its full extent is the utmost pleasure we are 
capable of.' * This is * the proper object of desire in general,' 
but Locke is careful to explain that the happiness which 

* moves every particular man's desire ' is not the full extent 
of it, but ' so much of it as is considered and taken to make 
a necessary part of his happiness.' It is that * wherewith he 
in his present thoughts can satisfy himself.' Happiness in 
this sense ' every one constantly pursues,' and without possi- 
bility of error ; for ' as to present pleasure the mind never 
mistakes that which is really good or eviL' Every one 

* knows what best pleases him, and that he actually prefers.' 
That which is the greater pleasure or the greater pain is 
really just as it appears (Ibid. §§ 43, 58, 63). Now in these 
statements, if we look closely, we shall find that four different 
meanings of happiness are mixed up, which we will take 
leave to distinguish by letters — (a) happiness as an abstract 

> Ibi<L, sec. 42, and cap. 28, see, 6. 


conception, the snm of possible pleasure ; (6) happiness as 
equivalent to the pleasure which at any time surviyes most 
strongly in imagination ; (c) happiness as the object of the 
self-conscious pleasure-seeker; {d) happiness as equivalent 
to any object at any time most strongly desired, not really a 
pleasure, but by Locke identified with happiness in sense (6) 
through the fallacy of supposing that the pleasure which 
arises on satisfstction of any desire, great in proportion to the 
strength of the desire, is itself the object which excites 

7. Happiness ^ in its full extent,' as ' the utmost pleasure we 'GreateBt 
are capable of,* is an unreal abstraction if ever there was ^^ ®^ , 
one It is curious that those who are most forward to deny and 
the reality of universals, in that sense in which they are the ;Plo«rar© ^ 
condition of all reality, viz., as relations, should yet, havuig Simwin^ng 
pronounced these to be mere names, be found ascribing oxpre«- 
reality to a universal, which cannot without contradiction be "°°'' 
supposed more than a name. Does this ' happiness in its 
full extent' mean the 'aggregate of possible enjoyments/ 
of which modem utilitarians tell us 9 Such a phrase simply 
represents the vain attempt to get a definite by addition of 
indefinites. It has no more meaning than 'the greatest 
possible quantity of time ' would have. Pleasant feelings 
are not quantities that can be added. Each is over before 
the next begins, and the man who has been pleased a million 
times is not really better off — ^has no more of the supposed 
chief good in possession — than the man who has only been 
pleaseda thousand times. When we speak of pleasures, then , as 
formingapossiblewhole,wecannot mean pleasures as feelings, 
and what else do we mean P Are we, then, by the 'happiness ' 
in question to understand pleasure in general, as might be 
inferred from Locke's speaking of it as the * object of desire 
in general*? But it is in its mere particularity that each 
pleasure has its being. It is a simple idea, and therefore, 
as Locke and Hume have themselves taught us, momentary, 
indefinable, in 'perpetual flux,* changing every moment 
upon us. Pleasure i/n general, therefore, is not pleasure, and 
it is nothing else. It is not a conceived reality,' as a relation, 
or a thing determined by relations, is, since pleasure as feel- 
ing, in distinction from its conditions which are not feelings, 
for the same reason that it cannot be defined, cannot be 
conceived. It is a mere name which utilitarian philosophy 



baa mistaken for a thing; bot for which — since no one, what- 
ever his theory of the desirable, can actaallj desire either 
the abstraction of pleasure in general or the aggregate of 
possible pleasures— a practical substitute is apt to be found 
in anj lust of the flesh that may for the time be the 

8. Having begun by making this fiction *the proper 
object of desire in general,' Locke saves the appearance of 
consistency by representing the particular pleasure or re- 
moval of uneasiness, which he in fact believed to be the 
object of every desire, as if it were a certain part of the 
' full extent of happiness ' which the individual, having this 
full extent before him, picked out as being what *in his 
present thoughts would satisfy him.' Nor does he ever give 
up the notion of a ' happiness in general,' in distinction 
from the happiness of each man's actual choice, as a possible 
motive, which a man who finds himself wretched in conse- 
quence of his actions may be told that he ought to have 
adopted. His real notion, however, of the happiness which 
is motive to action is a confused result of the three other 
notions of happiness, distinguished above as (b), (c) and 
In irliAt (d). As that about which no one can be mistaken, ^ happi- 
havpineas ^^^ * ^^^ ^^7 be 80 in sense (&), as the * pleasure which 
is It true suTvives most strougly in imagination.' Of this it can be said 
^i^reallT ^^J^ ^^^ ^^ ^^ ^^Ji ^^^^ * i* really is just as it appears,' 
just as it and that ^ a man never chooses amiss ' since he must ' know 
appears'? what best pleases him.* But with this, almost in the same 
breath, Locke confuses ^ happiness ' in senses (c) and («I). 
So soon as it is said of an object that it is ' taken by the 
individual to make a necessary part of his happiness,' it is 
implied that it is determined by his conception of self. It 
is something which, as the result of the action of this con- 
ception on his past experience, he has come to present to 
himself as a constituent of his personal good. Unless 
he were conscious of himself as a permanent subject, he 
could have no conception of happiness as a whole from rela- 
tion to which each present object takes its character as a 
part. Nor of the objects determined by this relation is it 
true, as Locke says, that they are always pleasures, or that 
they * are really just as they appear.' Our readiness to 
accept his statements to this effect, is at bottom due to a 
confusion between the pleasure, or removal of uneasiness. 


incidental to the satisfaction of a desire and the object which In what 
excites the desire. If having explain«jd desire, as Locke 't'i^every 
does, by reference to the good, we then allow ourselves to one b 
explain the good by reference to desire, it will indeed be ®°J^'*^ 
true that no man can be mistaken as to his present good, 
but only in the sense of the identical proposition that every 
man most desires what he does most desire ; and true also, 
that every attained good is pleasure, but only in the sense 
that what satisfies desire does satisfy it. The man of whom 
it could be truly said, in any other sense than that of the 
above identical proposition, that his only objects of desire — 
the only objects which he ' takes to make a necessary part 
of his happiness ' — were pleasures, would be a man, as we 
say, of no interests. He would be a man who either lived 
simply for pleasures incidental to the satisfaction of animal 
appetite, or one who, having been interested in certain 
objects in which reason alone enables us to be interested — 
6.y., persons, pursuits, or works of art — and having found con- 
sequent pleasure, afterwards vainly tries to get the pleasure 
without the interests. To the former type of character, 
of course, the approximations are numerous enough, though 
it may be doubted whether such an ideal of sensuality is 
often fully realised. The latter in its completeness, which 
would mean a perfect misery that could only issue in suicide, 
would seem to be an impossibility, though it is constantly 
being approached in proportion to the unworthiness and 
fleetingness of the interests by which men allow themselves 
to be governed, and which, after stimulating an indefinite 
hunger for good, leave it without an object to satisfy it ; in 
proportion, too, to the modem habit of hugging and poring 
over the pleasures which our higher interests cause us till 
these interests are vitiated, and we find ourselves in restless 
and hopeless pursuit of the pleasure when the interest which 
might alone produce it is gone. 

9. Just as it is untrue, then, of the object of desire, as No real 
* taken to be part of one's happiness ' or determined by the ^^^ 
conception of self, that it is always a pleasure, so it is un- desire cau 
true that it is always really just as it appears, except in the ?^®' ^®. 
trifling sense that what is most strongly desired is most ajpean. 
strongly desired. Bather it is never really what it appears. 
It is least of all so to the professed pleasure-^seeker. Ob- 
viously, to the man who seeks the pleasure incidental to 




liocke con- 
allow the 
true happi- 
ness ana 

interests which he has lost, there is a contradiction in his 
quest which for ever prevents what seems to him desirable 
from satisfying his desire. And even the man who lives 
for merely animal pleasure, just because he seeks it as part 
of a happiness, never finds it to be that which he sought. 
There is no mistake about the pleasure, but he seeks it as 
that which shall satisfy him, and satisfy him, since he is not 
an animal, it cannot. Nor are our higher objects of desire 
ever what they seem. That is too old a topic with poetis and 
moralizers to need enforcing. Each in its turn, we know, 
promises happiness when it shall have been attained, but 
when it is attained the happiness has not come. The craving 
for an object adequate to oneself, which is the source of 
the desire, is still not quenched ; and because it is not, nor 
can be, even * the joy of success ' has its own bitterness. 

10. The case, then, stands thus, Locke, having too much 
* common sense * to reduce all objects of desire to the plea- 
sures incidental to satisfactions of appetite, takes for granted 
any number of objects which only reason can constitute (or, 
in other words, which can only exist for a self-conscious 
subject) without any question as to their origin. It is 
enough for him that they are not conscious inventions of 
the individual, and that they are related to feeling — though 
related as determining it. This being so, they are to him 
no more the work of thought than are the satisfactions of 
appetite. The conception of them is of a kind with the 
simple remembrance or imagination of pleasures caused by 
such satisfactions. The question how, if only pleasure is 
the object of desire, they came to be desired before there 
had been experience of the pleasures incidental to their attain- 
ment, is virtually shelved by treating these latter pleasures 
as if they were themselves the objects originally desired. So 
far consistency at least is saved. No object but feeling, 
present or remembered, is ostensibly admitted within human 
experience. But meanwhile, alongside of this view, comes 
the account of the strongest motive as determined by the 
conception of self— as something which a man Hakes to be 
a necessary part of his happiness,' and which he is ' answer- 
able to himself for so taking. The inconsistency of such 
language with the view that every desired object must needs 
be a pleasure, would have been less noticeable if Locke him- 
self had not frankly admitted, as the corollary of this view, 


that the desired good ' is reallj just as it appears/ The Or respon- 
necessity of this admission has always been the rock on "^^»*y' 
which consistent Hedonism has broken. Locke himself has 
scarcely made it when he becomes aware of its dangerous 
consequences, and great part of the chapter on Power is 
taken up by awkward attempts to reconcile it with the dis- 
tinction between true happiness and false, and with the 
existence of moral responsibility. If greatest pleasure is 
the only possible object, and the production of such pleasure 
the only possible criterion of action, and if ' as to present 
pleasure and pain the mind never mistakes that which is 
really good or evil/ with what propriety can any one be 
told that he might or that he ought to have chosen other- 
wise than he has done 9 ^ He has missed the true good,' we 
say, ' which he might and should have found ' ; but ^ good,' 
according to Locke, is only pleasure, and pleasure, as Locke 
in any other connexion would be eager to tell us, must mean 
either some actual present pleasure or a series of pleasures 
of which each in turn is present. If every one without 
possibility of mistake has on each occasion chosen the 
greatest present pleasure, how can the result for him at any 
time be other than the true good, i. e., the series of greatest 
pleasures, each in its turn present, that have been hitherto 
possible for him 9 

11. A modem utilitarian, if faithful to the principle which ObjectioM 
excludes any test of pleasure but pleasure itself, will prob- utiliurjan 
ably answer that every one does attain the maximum of answer 
pleasure possible for him, his character and circumstances !^^^J^ 
being what they are ; but that with a change in these his . 
choice would be different. He would still choose on each 
occasion the greatest pleasure of which he was then capable, 
but this pleasure would be one * truer' — in the sense of 
being more intense, more durable, and compatible with a 
greater quantity of other pleasures— than is that which he 
actually chooses. But admitting that this answer justifies 
us in speaking of any sort of pleasure as 'truer ' than that^ 
at any time chosen by any one — which is a very large admis- 
sion, for of the intensity of any pleasure we have no test but 
its being actually preferred, and of durability and compa- 
tibility with other pleasures the tests are so vague that a 
healthy and unrepentant voluptuary would always have the 
best of it in an attempt to strike the balance between the 



ro Locke 
may be 

pleasures he has actually chosen and any truer sort — it still 
only throws us back on a further question. With a better 
character, it is said, such as better education and improved 
circumstances might have produced, the actually greatest 
happiness of the individual — 1.6., the series of pleasures 
which, because he has chosen them, we know to have been 
the greatest possible for him — might have been greater or 
* truer.' But the man's character is the result of his pre- 
vious preferences ; and if every one has always chosen the 
greatest pleasure of which he was at the time capable, and 
if no other motive is possible, how could any other than his 
actual character have been produced ? How could that con- 
ception of a happiness truer than the actual, of something 
that should be most pleasant, and therefore preferred, 
though it is not — a conception which all education implies — 
have been a possible motive among mankind 9 To say that 
the individual is, to begin with, destitute of such a concep- 
tion, but acquires it through education from others, does not* 
remove the diflBculty. How do the educators come by it ? 
Common sense assumes them to have found out that more 
happiness might have been got by another than the merely 
natural course of living, and to wish to give others the 
benefit of their experience. But such experience implies 
that each has a conception of himself as other than the 
subject of a succession of pleasures, of which each has been 
the greatest possible at the time of its occurrence ; and the 
wish to give another the benefit of the experience implies 
that this conception, which is no possible image of a feeling, 
-can originate action. The assumption of common sense, 
then, contradicts the two cardinal principles of the Hedon- 
istic philosophy ; yet, however disguised in "Hie terminology 
of development and evolution, it, or some equivalent supposi- 
tion, is involved in every theory of the progress of mankind. 
12. Such difficulties do not suggest themselves to Locke, 
because he is always ready to fall back on the language of 
common sense without asking whether it is reconcilable 
with his theory. Having asserted, without qualification, 
that the will in every case is determined by the strongest 
desire, that the strongest desire is desire for the greatest 
pleasure, and that ' pleasure is just so great, and no greater, 
than it is felt,' he finds a place for moral freedom and re- 
sponsibility in the ^ power a man has to suspend his desires 


and stop them from determining his will to any action till lie and desire 
has examined whether it be really of a nature in itself and ^^°^f* 
consequences to make him happy or no.'^ But how does it parison 
happen that there is any need for such suspense, if as to l"" i>o«" 
pleasure and pain 'a man never chooses amiss/ and pleasure 
is the same with happiness or the good P To this Locke 
answers that it is only present pleasure which is just as it 
appears, and that in ' comparing present pleasure or pain 
with future we often make wrong judgments of them;' 
again, that not only present pleasure and pain, but ' things 
that draw after them pleasure and pain, are considered as 
good and evil,' and that of these consequences under the in- 
fluence of present pleasure or pain we may judge amiss.* 
By tliese wrong judgments, it will be observed, Locke does 
not mean mistakes in discovering the proper means to a 
desired end (Aristotle's arivola ij Ka6* ifciurra)^ which it is 
agreed are not a ground for blame or punishment, but wrong 
desires — desires for certain pleasures as being the greater, 
which are not really the greater. Begarding such desires as 
involving comparisons of one good with another, he counis 
them judgments, and (the comparison being incorrectly 
made) wrong judgments. A certain present pleasure, and a 
certain future one, are compared, and though the future 
would really be the greater, the present is preferred ; or a 
present pleasure, ^drawing after it' a certain amount of pain, 
is compared with a less amount of present pain, drawing 
after it a greater pleasure, and the present pleasure preferred. 
Li such cases the man * may justly incur punishment ' for the 
wrong preference, because having * the power to suspend his 
desire ' for the present pleasure, he has not done so, but ^ by 
too hasty choice of his own making has imposed on himself 
wrong measures of good and evil.' *When he has once 
chosen it,' indeed, *and thereby it is become part of his 
happiness, it raises desire, and that proportionately gives 
him uneasiness, which determines his will.' But the original 
wrong choice, having the * power of suspending his desires,' 
he might have prevented. In not doing so he ^ vitiated his 
own palate,' and must be 'answerable to himself for the 

18. Be sponsibility for evil, then (with its conditions, 
blame, punishment, and remorse) supposes that a man has 

> u. 21, Sec. 61 and 56. ' Ibid., Sec. 61, 63, 67. ' Ibid., Sec. 66. 



meant bj 
* present' 

pleasLre ? 

gone wrong in the comparison of present with fatare plea- 
sure or pain, having had the chance of going right. Upon 
this we must remark that as moving desire — and it is the 
determination of desire that is here in question — no plea- 
sure can he present in the sense of actual enjoyment, or (in 
Hume's language) as ^ impression,' but only in memory or 
imagination, as ^idea.' Otherwise desire would not be 
desire. It would not be that uneasiness which, according 
to Locke, implies the absence of good, and alone moves action. 
On the other hand, to imagination every pleasure must be 
present that is to act as motive at all. lu whatever sense, 
then, pleasure, as pleasure, i.e. as undetermined by concep- 
tions, can properly be said to move desire, every pleasure is 
equally present and equally future.^ For man, if he only 
felt and retained his feelings in memory, or recalled them ir 
imagination, the only difference among the imagined plea- 
sures which solicit his desires, other than difference of 
intensity, would lie in the imagined pains with which each 
may have become associated. One pleasure might be 
imagined in association with a greater amount of the pain 
of waiting than another. In that sense, and only in that^ 
could one be distinguished from the other as a future plea- 
sure from a present one. According as the greater imagined 
intensity of the future pleasure did or did not outweigh the 
imagined pain of waiting for it, the scale of desire would 
turn one way or the other. Or with one pleasure, imagined 
as more intense than another, might be associated an ex- 
pectation of a greater amount of pain to be * drawn after it.' 
Here, again, the question would be whether the greater 
imagined intensity of pleasure would have the more effect in 
exciting desire, or the greater amount of imagined sequent 
pain in quenching it — a question only to be settled by the 
action which results. In whatever sense it is true of the 
* present pleasure or pain,' that it is really just as it appears, 
it is equally true of the future. Whenever the determina- 
tion of desire is in question, the statement that present , 
pleasure is just as it appears must mean that the pleasure 
present in imaginoMon is so, and in this sense all motive 
pleasui*es axe equally so present. Undoubtedly the pleasure 

■It is noticeable that when Locke takes were an absent good, in oontiadiction 

to distinguishing the pleasnres that to his previous view that every object 

move desire into present and future, he of desire is an absent good. (Cf. see. 

speaks as if the future pleasure alone 66 with sec 67 of csp. 21.) 


associated with the pain of prolonged expectancy might torn By the 
oat greater, and that associated with sequent pain less, than "omwiriBon 
was imagined ; but so might a pleasure not thus associated. Locke 
Of every pleasure alike it is as true, that while it is imagined ^^^^^°^^ 
it is just as it is imagined, as that while felt it is just as it is meant 
felt ; and if man only felt and imagined, there would be no ^^^o cpm- 
more reason why he should hold himself accountable for his pleasures 
imaginations thsui for his feelings. Whatever pleasure was equally 
most attractive in imagination would determine desire, and, ^^^na- 
through it, action, which would be the only measure of the tiont 
amount of the attraction. It would not indeed follow 
because an action was determined by the pleasure most 
attractive in imagination, that the ensuing pleasure in actual 
enjoyment would be greater than might have been attained 
by a different action — ^though it would be very hard to show 
the contrary — ^but it would follow that the man attained the 
greatest pleasure of which his nature was capable. There 
would be no reason why he should blame himself, or be 
blamed by others, for the result. 

14. Thus on Locke's supposition, that desire is only moved and this 
by pleasure — ^which must mean imagined pleasure, since Aground 
pleasure, determined by conceptions, is excluded by the forreepon- 
supposition that pleasure alone is the ultimate motive, and "^^^^y- 
pleasure in actual enjoyment is no longer desired — the 
^ suspense of desire,' that he speaks of, can only mean an 
interval, during which a competition of imagined pleasures . 
(one associated with more, another with less, of sequent or 
antecedent pain) is still going on, and none has become 
finally the strongest motive. Of such suspense it is un- 
meaning to say that a man has ^ the power of it,' or that, 
when it terminates in an action which does not produce 
so much pleasure as another might have done, it is because 
the man ^ has vitiated his palate,' and that therefore he must 
be ^ answerable to himself' for the cousequences. This lan- 
guage really implies that pleasures, instead of being ultimate 
ends, are determined to be ends through reference to an 
object beyond them which the man himself constitutes ; that 
it is only through his conception of self that every pleasure — 
not indeed best pleases him, or is most attractive in imagina- 
tion — but becomes his personal good. It may be that he 
identifies his personal good with the pleasure most attractive 
in imagination; but a pleasure so identified is quite a different 


In order to motive from a pleasure simply as imagined. It is no longer 
muBt be nicre pleasure that the man seeks, but self-satisfaction 
understood through the pleasure. The same consciousness of self, 
ine deter- "'^^^^'^ ^^^^ ^™^ ^^ ^^^ ^^^y coutinues through the act and its 
mination conscqueuces, Carrying with it the knowledge (commonly 
tionrf^*^" ^^^ ^^® * voice of conscience ') that it is to himself, as the 
self. ultimate motive, that the act and its consequences, whether 

in the shape of natural pains or civil penalties, are due — a 
knowledge which breeds remorse, and, through it, the possi- 
bility of a better mind, ^^hus, when Locke finds the ground 
of responsibility in a man's power of suspending his desire 
till he has considered whether the act, to which it inclines 
him, is of a kind to make him happy or no, the value of the 
explanation lies in the distinction which it may be taken to 
imply, but which Locke could not consistently admit, between 
the imagination of pleasure and the conception of self as t» 
permanent subject of happiness, by reference to which an 
imagined pleasure becomes a strongest motive. It is not 
really as involving a comparison between imagined plea- 
sures, but as involving the consideration whether the greatest 
imagined plestsure will be the best for one in the long run, 
that the suspense of desire establishes the responsibility of 
man. Even if we admitted with Locke that nothing entered 
into the consideration but an estimate of ^ future pleasures ' 
— and Locke, it will be observed, by supposing the estimate 
. to include ^ pleasures of a sort we are unacquainted with,'^ 
which is as much of a contradiction as to suppose a man in- 
5uenced by unfelt feelings, renders this restriction unmeaning 
— still to be determined by the consideration whether some- 
thing is good for me on the whole is to be determined, not 
by the imagination of pleasure, but by the conception of 
self, though it be of self only as a subject to be pleased. 

15. The mischief is that, though his language implies this 
distinction, he does not himself understand it. * The care 
of ourselves,' he tells us, * that we mistake not imaginary 
for real happiness, is the necessary foundation of our liberty. 
The stronger ties we have to an unalterable pursuit of happi- 
ness in general, which is our greatest good, and which, as 
such, our desires always follow, the more are we free from 

> Cap. 21, sec 65. He has specially to every one's wish and desire : could 

in view the pleasures of ' another life,' we snppose their relishes as different 

which ' being intended for a state of there as they are here, yet the manna in 

happiness, must certainly be agreeable hearen will suit eveiy one's iialate.' 


anj necessary determination of onr will to any particular Locke 
action, till we have examined whether it has a tendency to, ^^J^n 
or is inconsistent with, our real happiness.' * But he does necessity 
not see that the rationale of the freedom, thus paradoxically, g^^"]^ 
though truly, placed in the strength of a tie, lies in that pineos. 
determination by the conception of self to which the ^ un- 
alterable pursuit of happiness ' is really equivalent. To him 
it is not as one mode among others in which that self- 
determination appears, but simply in itself, that the con- 
sideration of what is for our real happiness is the * foundation 
of our liberty,' and the consideration itself is no more than 
a comparison between imagined pleasures and pains. Hence 
to a reader who refuses to read into Locke an interpretation 
which he does not himself supply, the range of moral liberty 
must seem as narrow as its nature is ambiguous. As to its 
range, the greater part of our actions, and among them 
those which we are apt to think our best, are not and could 
not be preceded by any consideration whether they are for 
our real happiness or no. In truth, they result from a 
character which the conception of self has rendered possible, 
or express an interest in objects of which this conception is 
the condition, and for that reason they represent a will self- 
determined and free ; but they do not rest on the foundation 
which Locke calls ^ the necessary foundation of our liberty.' 
As to the nature of this liberty, the reader, who takes Locke 
at his word, would find himself left to choose between tho 
view of it as the condition of a mind * suspended * between 
rival presentations of the pleasant, and the equally untenable 
view of it as that * liberty of indifference,' which Locke 
himself is quite ready to deride — as consisting in a choice 
prior to desire, which determines what the desire shall be.' 

16. This ambiguous deliverance about moral freedom, it 
must be observed, is the necessary result on a mind, having 
too strong a practical hold on life to tamper with human 
responsibility, of a doctrine which denies the originativeness 
of thought, and in consequence cannot consistently allow If an 
any motive to desire, but the image of a past pleasure or ^^^^L 
pain. The full logical effect of the doctrine, however, does desire for 
not appear in Locke, because, with his way of taking any *° ^^^^ 

> Cap. 21, sec. 51. become part of his happiness, it raises 

* Cf. the passage in sec. 66 : * When desire,' &C (Cf. also sec. 43 sub fin.) 
he has once chosen it, and thereby it is 


Locke asks desire of which the satisfaction produces pleasure to have 
tioM^i^bont pl®^'^^ fo^^ i*fi object, he never comes in sight of the ques- 
origin of tion how the manifold objects of actual human interest are 
the object, possible for a being who only feels and retains, or combines, 
his feelings. An action moved by love of country, love of 
fame, love of a friend, love of the beautiful, would cause him 
no more difficulty than one moved by desire for the renewal 
of some sensual enjoyment, or for that maintenance of 
health which is the condition of such enjoyment in the 
future. If pressed about them, we may suppose that — avail- 
ing himself of the language probably current in the philoso* 
phic society in which he lived, though it first became 
generally current in England through the writings of his 
quasi-pupil, Shaftesbury — he would have said that he found 
in his breast afiections for public good, as well as for self- 
good, the satisfaction of which gave pleasure, and to which 
his doctrine, that pleasure is the ' object of desire in general,' 
was accordingly applicable. The question— of what feelings 
or combinations of feelings are the objects which excite 
these several desires copies ? — it does not occur to him to 
But what ask. It is only when a class of actions presents itself for 
S^artionef ^^^^^h a motive in the way of desire or aversion is not 
which we readily assignable that any difficulty arises, and then it is a 
because we difficulty which the assignment of such a motive, without 
ought? any question asked as to its possibility for a merely feeling 
and imagining subject, is thought sufficiently to dispose of. 
Such a class of actions is that of which we say that we 
•ought* to do them, even when we are not compelled and 
had rather not. We ought, it is generally admitted, to keep 
our promises, even when it is inconvenient to us to do so and 
no punishment could overtake us if we did not. We ought 
to be just even in ways that the law does not prescribe, and 
when we are beyond its ken ; and that, too, in dealing vnth 
men towards whom we have no inclination to be generous. 
We ought even — so at least Locke *on the authority of 
Revelation ' would have said — to forgive injuries which we 
cannot forget, and if not * to love our enemies * in the literal 
sense, which may be an impossibility, yet to act as if we did. 
To what motive are such actions to be assigned P 

17. * To desire for pleasure or aversion from pain,' Locke 
would answer, 'but a pleasure and pain other than the 
natural consequences of acts and attached to them by some 


lair.* This is the result of his enquiry into * Moral Rela- Their 
tions* (Book ii., chap. 28). Good and evil, he tells ns, being pi^^" 
'nothing but pleasure and pain, moral good or evil is only butpiwi- 
the conformity or disagreement of onr actions to some law, ^i^f^^ 
whereby good or evil, i.e., pleasure or pain, is drawn on us nature hat 
by the will and power of the law-maker/ All law according ^^ ^^' 
to its * true nature ' is a rule set to the actions of others by an 
intelligent being, having * power to reward the compliance 
with, and punish deviation from, his rule by some good and 
evil that is not the natural product and consequence of the 
action itself; for that, being a natural convenience or incon- 
venience, would operate of itself without a law.' Of such law 
there are three sorts. 1. Divine Law, ^ promulgated to men 
by the light of nature or voice of revelation, by comparing 
their actions to which they judge whether, as duties or sins, 
they are like to procure them happiness or misery from the 
hands of the Almighty.' 2. Civil Law, * the rule set by the 
Commonwealth to the actions of those who belong to 
it,' reference to which decides * whether they be criminal or 
no.' 3. *The law of opinion or reputation,* according to 
agreement or disagreement with which actions are reckoned 
* virtues or vices.' This law may or may not coincide with 
the divine law. So far as it does, virtues and vices are 
really, what they are always supposed to be, actions ^ in their 
own nature ' severally right or wrong. It is not as really 
right or wrong, however, but only as esteemed so, that an 
act is virtuous or vicious, and thus * the common measure of 
virtue and vice is the approbation or dislike, praise or blame, 
which by a tacit consent establishes itself in the several 
societies, tribes, and clubs of men in the world, whereby 
several actions come to find credit or disgrace among them, 
according to the judgment, maxims, or fashions of the place.' 
Each sort of law has its own * enforcement in the way of 
good and eviL' That of the civil law is obvious. That of 
the Divine Law lies in the pleasures and pains of * another 
world,' which (we have to suppose) render actions * in their 
own nature good and evil.' That of the third sort of law 
lies in those consequences of social reputation and dislike 
which are stronger motives to most men than are the re- 
wards and punishments either of God or the magistrate 
(chap. 28, §§5-12). 
18. * Moral goodness or evil,' Locke concludes, ^ is the 



mitj to 
law not 
the moral 



Hume has 
to deriye 
firom 'im- 
the objects 
took for 

conformity or non-conformity of any action ' to one or other 
of the above rules f§ 14). But such conformity or non-con- 
formity is not a feeling, pleasant or painful, at alL If, then, 
the account of the good as consisting in pleasure, of which 
the morally good is a particular form, is to be adhered to, 
we must suppose that, when moral goodness is said to be 
conformity to law, it is so called merely with reference to the 
specific means of attaining that pleasure in which moral 
good consists. Not the conception of conformity to law, but 
the imagination of a certain pleasure, wiD determine the 
desire that moves the moral act, as every other desire. 
The distinction between the moral act and an act judiciously 
done for the sake, let us say, of some pleasure of the palate, 
will lie only in the channel through which comes the pleasure 
that each is calculated to obtain. If the motive of an act 
done for the sake of the pleasure of eating differs from the 
motive of an act done for the sake of sexual pleasure on ac- 
count of the difference of the channels through which the 
pleasures are severally obtained, in that sense only can the 
motive of either of tiiese acts, upon Locke's principles, be 
taken to differ from the motive of an act morally done. The 
explanation, then, of the acts not readily assignable to 
desire or aversion, of which we say that we only do them 
because we ^ ought,' has been found. They are so far of a kind 
with all actions done to obtain or avoid what Locke calls 
* future * pleasures or pains that the diflSculty of assigning 
a motive for them only arises from the fact that their 
immediate result is not an end but a means. They differ 
from these, however, inasmuch as the pleasure they draw 
afber them is not their * natural consequence,' any more than 
the pain attaching to a contrary act would be, but is only 
possible through the action of God, the magistrate, or 
society in some of its forms. 

19. Afber the above examination we can easily anticipate 
the points on which a candid and clear-headed man, who 
accepted the principles of Locke's doctrine, would see that 
it needed explanation and development. If all action is 
determined by impulse to remove the most pressing uneasi- 
ness, as consisting in desire for the greatest pleasure of which 
the agent is at the time capable; if this, again, means 
desire for the renewal of some * impression * previously ex- 
perienced, and aU impressions are either those of sense or 


deriyed from them, how are ^e to account for those actual 
objects of human interest and pursuit which seem far re- 
moved from any combination of animal pleasures or of the 
means thereto, and specially for that class of actions deter- 
mined, as Locke says, by expectation of pain or pleasure 
other than the * natural consequence ' of tihie act, to which 
the term * moral ' is properly applied ? Hume, as we have 
8een,^ in accepting Locke's principles, clothes them in a 
more precise terminology, marking the distinction between 
the feeling as originally felt and the same as returning in 
memory or imagination as that between ^impression and 
idea,' and excluding original ideas of reflection. ^ An im- 
pression first strikes upon the senses, and makes us perceive 
heat or cold, thirst or hunger, pleasure or pain, of some kind 
or other. Of this impression there is a copy taken by the 
mind, which remains after the impression ceases ; and this 
we call an idea. This idea of pleasure or pain, when it re- 
turns upon the soul, produces the new impressions of desire 
and aversion, hope and fear, which may properly be called 
impressions of reflection, because derived from it' (a). 
These, again, are copied by the memory and imagination, 
and become ideas ; which perhaps in their turn give rise to 
other impressions ' (b). Thus the impressions of reflection, 
marked (a), will be determined by ideas copied fit)m impres- 
sions of sense. If desires, they will be desires for the re- 
newal either of a pleasure incidental to the satisfaction of 
appetite, or of a pleasant sight or sound, a sweet taste or 
smell. These desires and their satisfactions will again be 
copied in ideas, but how can the impressions (6) to which 
these ideas give rise be other than desires for the renewal of 
the original animal pleasures? How do they come to be 
desires as unlike these as are the motives which actuate not 
merely the saint or the philanthropist, but the ordinary good 
neighbour or honest citizen or head of a family ? 

20. During the interval between the publication of Locke's Question* 
essay and the * Treatise on Human Nature ' there had been J^^ ^ * 
much writing on ethical questions in English. The effect of ibsuo. 
this on Hume is plain enough. He writes with reference to 
current controversy, and in the moral part of the treatise 
probably had the views of Clarke, Shaftesbury, Butler, and 
Hutcheson more consciously before him than Locke's. This 
does not interfere, however, with the propriety of affiliating 

' Geneml Id trod., vol. i., par. 195. 
VOL. I. Y 


a. Is virtue Ilim in respect of his views onmoralsy no less than on know- 
h^^hex^ ledge, directly to Locke, whose principles and method were 
is con- in the main accepted bj aH the moralists of that age. Bis 

characteristic lies in his more consistent application of these, 
and the effect of cnrrent controversy npon him was chiefly 
to show him the line which this application most take. It 
was a controversy which tamed almost wholly on two points ; 
(a) the distinction between 'interested and disinterested,' 
selfish and unselfish affections ; (&) the origin and nature of 
that ' law,' relation to which, according to Locke, constitutes 
our action * virtuous or vicious.' In the absence of any notion 
of thought but as a faculty which puts together simple ideas 
into complex ones, of reason but as a faculty which calculates 
means and perceives the agreement of \ ideas mediately, it 
could have but one end. 
Hobbes' 21. By the generation in which Hume was bred the issue 

^^^ ^ as to the possible disinterestedness of action was supposed to 
tioiL lie between the view of Hobbes and that of Shaftesbury. 

Hobbes' moral doctrine had not been essentially different 
from Locke's, but he had been offensively explicit on ques* 
tions which Locke left open to more genial views than his 
doctrine logically justified. Each started from the position 
that the ultimate motive to every action can only be the 
imagination of one's own pleasure or pain, and neither pro- 
perly left room for the determination of desire by a conceived 
object as distinct from remembered pleasure. But while 
Locke, as we have seen, illogically took for granted desires 
so determined, and thus made it possible for a disciple to 
admit any benevolent desires as motives on the strength of 
the pleasure which they produce when satisfied, Hobbes had 
been more severe in his method, and had explained every 
desire, of which the direct motive could not be taken to be 
the renewal of some animal pleasure, as desire e^ither for the 
power in oneself to command such pleasure at will or for the 
pleasure incidental to the contemplation of the signs of such 
power. Hence his peculiar treatment of compassion and the 
other * social affections,' which it is easier to show to be un- 
true to the facts of the case than to be other than the 
proper consequence of principles which Locke had rendered 
orthodox.* Tl e counter-doctrine of Shaftesbury holds water 
just so &r as it involves the rejection of the doctrine that 

' See 'Leviathan/ port 1, chap. 6. 


pleasure is fhe sole ultimate motive. It becomes confused 
just because its author had no definite theory of reason, as 
constitutive of objects, that could justify this rejection. 

22. He begins with a doctrine that directly contradicts Couotei* 
Locke's identification of the good with pleasure, and of tho gh^^l' ^ 
morally good with pleasure occurring in a particular way. biiry. 

* In a sensible creature that which is not done through any ,^^^^5, 
affection at all makes neither good nor ill in the nature of 

that creature ; who then only is supposed good, when the 
good or ill of the system to which he has relation is the 
immediate object of some passion or afiPection moving him.' ^ 
This, it vdll be seen, as against Locke, implies that the good 
of a man's action lies not in any pleasure sequent upon it to 
him, but in the nature of the affection from which it pro- 
ceeds ; and that the goodness of this affection depends on 
its being determined by an object wholly different from 
imagined pleasure — the c<mceived good of a system to which 
the man has relation, i.6., of human society, which in 
Shaftesbury's language is the ' public ' as distinct from the 

* private ' system. It is not enough that an action should 
result in good to this system ; it must proceed fi^m affection 
for it. ' Whatever is done which happens to be advantageous 
to the species through an affection merely towards self-good 
does not imply any more goodness in the creature than as 
the affection itself is good. Let him in any particular act 
ever so well; if at the bottom it be that selfish affection 
alone which moves him, he is in himself still vicious.'* Here, 
then, we seem to have a clear theory of moral evil as con- 
sisting in selfish, of moral good as consisting in unselfish 
affections. But what exactly constitutes a selfish affection, 
according to Shaftesbury P The answer that first suggests 
itself, is that as the unselfish affection is an affection for 
public good, so a selfish one is an affection for ' self-good,' 
the good of the * private system.' Shaftesbury, however, 
does not give this answer. ^Affection for private good' 
with him is not, as such, selfish ; it is so only when ' exces- 
sive ' and ^ inconsistent with the interest of the species or 
public." This qualification seems at once to efface the 
clear line of distinction previously drawn. It puis ^self- 
affection ' on a level with public affection which, according 

> ' Inquiry concerning Virtae/ Book l, * Ibid., Boos i., part 2, see. 2. 
part 2. sec 1. ' Ibid., Book n., part 1, sec. 3. 

Y 2 


But no to Shaftesbury, may equally err on the side of excess. It im- 
^^j^ of plies that an affection for self-good, if only it be advantageous 
selfishness, to the species, may be good ; which is just what had been 
previously denied. And not only so; although, when the 
self^affections are under view, they are only allowed a 
qualified goodness in virtue of their indirect contribution to 
the good of the species, yet conversely, the superiority of the 
affections, which have tibis latter good for their object, is 
urged specially on the ground of the greater amount of 
happiness or * self-good ' which they produce. 
kT^r*^'' 23. The truth is that the notions which Shaftesbury 
notions of attached to the terms ^ affection for self-good ' and ^ affection 
** d^°^n ^^^ public good ' were not such as allowed of a consistent 
^^^^ ^ opposition between them. They can only be so opposed if, 
on the one hand, self-good is identified with pleasure ; and on 
the other, affection for public good is carefully distinguished 
from desire for that sort of pleasure of which the gratifica- 
tion of others is a condition. But with Shaftesbury, affec- 
tions for self-good do not represent merely those desires for 
pleasure determined by self-consciousness— for pleasure 
presented as one's personal good — which can alone be 
properly reckoned sources of moral evil. They include equally 
mere natural appetites — hunger, the sexual impulse, &c. — 
which are morally neutral, and they do not clearly exclude 
any desire for an object which a man has so ' made his own ' 
as to find his happiness — * self-enjoyment ' or * self-good,* 
according to Shaftesbury's language — in attaining it, though 
it be as remote from imagined pleasure as possible.^ On 
the other hand, * affections for public good,' as he describes 
them, are not restricted to such desires for the good of 
others as are irrespective of pleasure to self. They include 
not only such natural instincts as ' parental kindness and 
concern for the nurture and propagation of the young,' 
which, morally, at any rate, are not to be distinguished from 
the appetites reckoned as affections for self-good, but also de- 
sires for sympathetic pleasure — ^the pleasure to oneself which 
arises on consciousness that another is pleased. Shaftesbury's 
special antipathy, indeed, is the doctrine that benevolent 
affections are interested in the sense of having for their 
object a pleasure to oneself, apart from and beyond the 
pleasure of the person whom they move us to please ; but 
' Book ii., pait 2, sec. 2. 


tmless he regards them as desires for the pleasure which Is all 
the subject of them experiences in the pleasure of another, pi^g^^^' 
there is no purpose in enlarging, as he does with much or only too 
unction, on the special pleasantness of the pleasures which ^^i^! *^ 
they produce. With such vagueness in his notions of what 
he meant by affections for * self-good ' and for * public good,' 
it is not strange that he should have failed to give any 
tenable account of the selfishness in which he conceived 
moral evil to consist. He could not apply such a term of 
reproach to the ' self-affections ' in general, without con- 
demning as selfish the man who ^ finds his own happiness in 
doing good,' and who is in truth indistinguishable &om one 
to whom ^ affection for public good ^ has become, as we say, 
the law of his being. Nor could he identify selfishness, as 
he should have done, with all living for pleasure without a 
more complete rupture than he was capable of with the 
received doctrine of his time and without bringing affection 
for public good, in the form in which it was most genera^Uy 
conceived, and which was, at any rate, one of the forms 
under which he presented it to himself — as desire, namely, 
for sympathetic pleasure — ^into the same condemnation. His 
way out of the diificulty is, as we have seen, in violation of 
his own principle to find the characteristic of selfishness not 
in the motive of any affection but in its result ; not in the 
fact that a man's desire has his own good for its object, 
which is true of one to whom his neighbour's good is as his 
own, nor in the fact that it has pleasure for its object, 
which Shaftesbury, as the child of his age, could scarcely 
help thinking was the ca^se with every desire, but in the 
fact that it is stronger than is ^ consistent wi,th the interest 
of the species or public.* 

24. Neither Butler nor Hutche^on* can claim to have What hare 
carried the ethical controversy much beyond the point at S"^*"^ 
which Shaftesbury left it. 'Each took for granted that the to say 
object of the ' self-^affection ' was necessarily one's own *^^t»t? 
happiness, and neither made any distinction between living 
for happiness and living for pleasure. They could not then 
identify selfishness with the living for pleasure without con- 

* The works of Hntcheson, published duct of the Passions and AffectioDft 

before Hume's treatise was written, (1728). In what follows I wrote with 

&nd which strongly affected it) were direct reference to his posthumous 

the *Enquiiy into the Original of our work, not published till aner Hume*s 

Ideas of Beauty and Virtue* (1725), treatise, but which only reproduces 

i^nd the ' Essay on the Nature and Con- more systematically his earlier views. 


Chiefly, demning the self-affection, and with it the best man's 
tioDB*^ pursuit of his own highest good in the service of others, 
minate altogether as eviL Nor in the absence of any better theoiy 
oWwu^^^ of the object of the self-affection could the social affections, 
which, according to Butler, are subject in the developed man 
to the direction of self-love, escape the suggestion that thej 
are one mode of the general desire for pleasure. Butler and 
Hutcheson, indeed, are quite clear that they are 'disin- 
terested ' in the sense of * terminating upon their objects/ ' 
This means, what is sufficiently obvious when once pointed 
out, (a) that a benevolent desire is not a desire for that 
particular pleasure, or rather * removal of uneasiness,' which 
shall ensue when it is satisfied, and (6) that it cannot origi- 
nally arise from the general desire for happiness, since this 
creates no pleasures but merely directs us to the pursuit of 
objects found pleasant independently of it, and thus, if it 
directs us to benevolent acts, presupposes a pleasure pre- 
viously found in them. This, however, as Butler points out, 
is equally true of all particular desires whatever— of those 
styled self-regarding, no less than of the social — and if it is 
not incompatible with the former being desires for pleasure, 
no more is it with the latter being so. Much confusion on 
the matter, it may be truly said, arises fix>m the loose way 
in which the words * affection ' and * passion * are used by 
Sut this Butler and his contemporaries, not excluding Hume himself, 
does not alike for appetite, desire, and emotion. In every case a 
the view pleasure other than satisfaction of desire must have been 
that all experienced before desire can be excited by the imagination 
for plea- ^^ i^- -^ pleasure incidental to the satis&ction of appetite 
•ura. must have been experienced before imagination of it could 

excite the dedre of the glutton. In like manner, social 
affection, as desire, cannot be first excited by the pleasure 
which shall arise when it is satisfied; it must previously 
exist as the condition of that pleasure being experienced ; 
but it does not follow that it is other than a desire for 
an imagined pleasure, for that sympathetic pleasure in the 
pleasure of another in which the social affection as emotion 
consists. Now though Butler and Hutcheson sufficiently 
showed that it is no other pleasure than this which is the 
original object of benevolent desires, they did not attempt 
to show that it is not this ; and failing such an attempt, the 

> See in Preface to Butler's Sermons, pursuit* &c ; also the early part of 
the part relating to Sermon XI., * Be- Srnnon XL, * Every man hath a gene- 
aides, the only idea of an interested ral desire/ &C 


received doctrine that the object of all desire, social and 
self-regarding alike, is pleasure of one sort or another, 
YTOuld naturally be taken to stand. This admitted, there 
can be nothing in the fact that a certain pleasure depends 
on the pleasure of another, and that a certain other does not, 
to entitle an action moved by desire for the former sort of 
pleasure to be called unselfish in the way of praise, and one 
moved by desire for the latter sort selfish in the way of 
reproach. The motive — desire for his own pleasure — is the 
same to the doer in both cases. The distinction between the 
acts can only lie in that which Shaftesbury had said could 
not constitute moral good or iU — in the consequences by 
which society judges of them, but which do not form the 
motive of the agent. In other words, it will be a distinction 
fixed by that law of opinion or reputation, in which Locke 
had found the common measure of virtue and vice, though 
he had not entered on the question of the considerations by 
which that law is formed. 

25. Such a conclusion would lie ready to hand for such a Of moral 
reader of Butler and Huteheson as we may suppose Hume ^^"^ 
to have been, but it is needless to say that it is not that at acooaot 
which they themselves arrive. Butler, indeed, distinctly <'^''^* 
refuses to identify moral good and evil respectively with 
disinterested and interested action,' but neither does he 
admit that desire for pleasure or aversion from gain is the 
uniform motive of action in such a way as to compel the 
conclusion that moral good and ill represent a distinction, 
not of motives, but of consequences of action contemplated 
by the onlooker. An act is morally good, according to him, 
when it is approved by the ' reflex faculty of approbation,' 
bad when it is disapproved, but what it is that this * faculty * 
approves he never distinctly tells us. The good is what 
* conscience ' approves, and conscience is what approves the 
good — ^that is the circle out of which he never escapes. If 
we insist on extracting &om him any more satisfactory con- 
clusion as to the object of moral approbation, it must be 
that it is the object which * self-love' pursues, i.e., the 
greatest happiness of the individual, a conclusion yhieh in 

> See preface to Sermons (about four the second sermon, mnst be imdfirstood 

pages from the end in most editions) : — to mean an action ' suitable to our whole 

'The goodness or badness of actions does nature/ as containing a principle of 

not arise hence/ &c The conclusion * reflex approbation/ In other words, 

he there arrives at is that a good action the good action is so because approved 

is one which 'becomes such creatures as by conscience, 
we are' ; and this, read in the light of 



fion'8 in- 
with his 
thnt reason 
gives DO 

Source of 
the moral 

nation of 

Bome places he certainlj adopts.^ Hutcheson, on the other 
hand, gives a plain definition of the object which this faculty 
approves. It consists in ^ affections tending to the happiness 
of others and the moral perfection of the mind possessing 
them.* If in this definition by * tending to' may be under- 
stood * of which the motive is * — an interpretation which 
the general tenor of Hutcheson's view would justify — it 
implies in effect that the morally good lies in desires ol 
which the object is not pleasure. That desire for moral 
perfection, if tiiere is such a thing, is not desire for pleasure 
is obvious enough; nor could desire for the happiness of 
others be taken to be so except through confusion between 
determination by the conception of another's good, to which 
his apparent pleasure is rightly or wrongly taken as a 
guide, and by the imagination of a pleasure to be experienced 
by oneself in sympathy with the pleasure of another. Nor 
is it doubtful that Hutcheson himself, though he might 
have hesitated to identify moral evil, as selfishness, with the 
living for pleasure, yet understood by the morally good the 
living for objects wholly different from pleasure. The 
question is whether the recognition of such motives is 
logically compatible with his doctrine that reason gives no 
ends, but is only a * subservient power ' of calculating means. 
If feeling, undetermined by thought or reason, can alone 
supply motives, and of feeling, thus undetermined, nothing 
can be said but that it is pleasant or painful, what motive 
can there be but imagination of one's own pleasure or pain 
— Qne*8 owfif for if imagination is merely the return of 
feeling in fainter form, no one can imagine any feeling, any 
more than he can originally feel it, except as his own ? 

26. The work of reason in constituting the moral judgment 
(* I ought '), as weU as the moral motive (* I must, because I 
ought'), could not find due recognition in an age which 
took its notion of reason from Locke. The only theory then 
known which found the source of moral distinctions in 
reason was Clarke's, and Clarke's notion of reason was 
essentially the same as that which appears in Locke's 
account of demonstrative knowledge.* It was in truth 

■ See a paseage towards the end of n., proposition 1. The germ of CIarke*s 

Sermon III., * Heasonable self-love and doctrine of morals is to be fonnd in 

conscience are the chief/ &c. &c.; also Locke's occasional assimilation of 

a passsffe towards the end of Sermon moral to mathematical trath imd cer- 

XL, < Let it be allowed though virtae/ tainty. (Cf. Essay, Book it, ch. 4, sec 7, 

&c ftc. and ch. 12, «ec. 8. 

* See Clarke's Boyle Lectures, Vol. 


derived from the procedure of mathematics, and only applic- reason iu- 
able to the comparison of quantities. Clarke talks loftilj ^ftru^^'' 
about the Eternal Season of things, but by this he means view, 
nothing definite except the laws of proportion, and when he 
finds the virtue of an act to consist in conformity to this 
Eternal Season, the inevitable rejoinder is the question — 
Between what quantities is this virtue a proportion P * In 
Shaftesbury first appears a doctrine of moral sense. Over 
and above the social and self-regarding affections proper to 
a ^ sensible ' creature, the characteristic of man is a ^ rational 
affection ' for goodness as consisting in the proper adjust- 
ment of the two orders of * sensible ' affection. This rational 
affection is not only a possible motive to action — ^it is the 
only motive that can make that character good of which 
human action is the expression ; for with Shaftesbury, though 
a balance of the social and self-affections constitutes the 
goodness of those affections, yet the man is only good as 
actuated by affection for this goodness, and 'should the 
sensible affections stand ever so much amiss, yet if they 
prevail not because of those other rational affections spoken 
of, the person is esteemed virtuous.* ■ Such a notion, it is 
clear, if it had met with a psychology answering it, had only 
to be worked out in order to become Kant's doctrine of the 
rational will as determined by reverence for law; but 
Shaftesbury had no such psychology, nor, with his aristo- 
cratic indifference to completeness of system, does he seem 
ever to have felt the want of it. He never asked himself 
what precisely was the theory of reason implied in the 
admission of an affection ' rational ' in the sense, not that 
reason calculates the means to its satisfaction, but that it is 
determined by an object only possible for a rational as 
distinct from a ' sensible ' creature ; and just because he did 
not do so, he slipped into adaptations to the current view of 
the good as pleasure and of desire as determined by the 
pleasure incidental to its own satisfaction. Thus, to a 
disciple, who wished to extract from Shaftesbury a more 
definite system than Shaftesbury had himself formed, the shaftee- 
* rational affection ' would become desire for a specific feeling ^^^ doo^ 
of pleasure supposed to arise on the view of good actions as rational 
exhibiting a proper balance between social and self-regarding affection ; 

» Cf. Hume, Vol. ii., p. 238. 

' *lDq. concerning Virtue/ Book i., pt. 2, sec. 4. Cf. Sec. 3 sub iniU 


qwilt bj affections. Tbis pleasure is the ' moral sense/ ^ with which 

» mozal^ ^ Shafbesbnr} 's name has become specially associated, while 

the doctrine of rational affection, with which he certainly 

himself connected it, but which it essentially vitiates, has 

been forgotten. 

27. That doctrine is of value as maintaining that those 
actions only are morally good of which the rational affection 
is the motive, in the sense that they spring from a character 
which this affection has fashioned. But if the rational affec- 
tion is desire for the pleasure of moral sense, we find ourselves 
in the contradiction of supposing that the only motive which 
can produce good acts is one that cannot operate till after 
the good acts have been done. It is desire for a pleasure 
which yet can only have been experienced as a consequence 
of the previous existence of the desire. Shaftesbury himself, 
indeed, treats the moral sense of pleasure in the contempla- 
tion of good actions as a pleasure in the view of the right 
adjustment between the social and self-affections. If, how- 
ever, on the strength of this, we suppose that certain actions 
are first done, not &om the rational affection, but yet good, 
and that then remembrance of the pleasure found in the view 
of their goodness, exciting desire, becomes motive to another 
set of acts which are thus done from rational affection, we 
contradict his statement that only the rational affection forms 
the goodness of man, and are none the nearer to an account 
of what does form it. To say that it is the ^ right adjustment ' 
of the two orders of affection tells us nothing. Except as sug- 
gesting an analogy from the world of art, really inapplicable, 
but by which Shaftesbury was much influenced, this expres- 
sion means no more than that goodness is a good state of 
the affections. From such a circle the outlet most consistent 
Conse- with the spirit of that philosophy, which had led Shaftesbury 
th? Utter liiniself to bring down the rational affection to the level of a 
desire for pleasure, would, lie in the notion that a state of 
the affections is good in proportion as it is productive of 
pleasure ; which again would suggest the question whether 
the specific pleasure of moral sense itself, the supposed object 
of rational affection, is more than pleasure in that indefinite 

* In using the term ' moral sense,' sense of the word, as opposed to reason, 

Shaftesbuzy himself, no doubt, meant the fiurulty of demonstration, rather 

00 convey the notion that the moral than that it was a susceptibility of 

faculty was one of ' intuition,' in Locke's pleasure and pain. 


anticipation of pleasure which the view of a£Fection8 so 
ordered tends to raise in ns. 

28. Here, again, neither Butler nor Hutcheson, while they is an act 
avoid the most obvious inconsistency of Shaftesbury's doctrine, f^j.^^^.^ 
do much for its positiye development. With each the ^ moral Bake' done 
faculty,' though it is said to approve and disapprove, is still '<>' P^?-" 
a * sense ' or ^ sentiment,' a specific susceptibility of pleasure moral 

in the contemplation of goodness ; and each again recognises s^n^e? 
a * reflex affection * for — a desire to have — ^the goodness of 
which the view conveys this pleasure. But they neither have 
the merit of stating so explicitly as Shaftesbury does that this 
rational affection alone constitutes the goodness of man, as 
man ; nor, on the other hand, do they lapse, as he does, into 
the representation of it as a desire for the pleasure which the 
view of goodness causes. Butler, indeed, having no account 
to give of the goodness which is approved or morally pleasing, 
but the fact that it is so pleasing, could logically have no- 
thingto say against the view that this reflex affection is merely 
a desire for this particular sort of pleasure; but by representing 
it as equivalent in its highest form to the love of God, to the 
longing of the soul after Him as the perfectly good, he in 
effect gives it a wholly different character. Hutcheson, by 
his deflnition of the object of moral approbation,* which is 
also a definition of the object of the reflex affection, is fairly 
entitled to exclude, as he does, along with the notion that 
the goodness which we morally approve is the quality of ex- 
citing the pleasure of such approval, the notion that * affec- 
tion for goodness ' means desire for this or any other pleasure. 
But, in spite of his express rejection of this view, the question 
will stDl return, how either a faculty of consciousness of 
which we only know that it is 'a kind of taste or relifh,' or 
a desire from the determination of which reason is expressly 
excluded, can have any other object than pleasure or pain. 

29. In contrast with these well-meant efforts to derive Hume 
that distinction between the selfish and unselfish, betweeu ^veiy ** 
the pleasant and the morally good, which the Christian con- object of 
science requires, from principles that do not admit of it, ^^^* 
Hume's system has the merit of relative consistency. He 

sees that the two sides of Locke's doctrine — one that tiiought 
originates nothing, but takes its objects as given in feeling, 
the other that the good which is object of desire is pleasant 

' See aboTC, sec. 25. 


feeling — are inseparable. Hence he decisively rejects every 
notion of rational or unselfish a£Fections, which would imply 
that they are other than desires for pleasure; of virtue, 
which would imply that it antecedently determines, rather 
than is constituted by, the specific pleasure of moral sense ; 
and of this pleasure itself, which would imply that anything 
but the view of tendencies to produce pleasure can excite it. 
But here his consistency stops. The principle which forbade 
him to admit any object of desire but pleasure is practically 
forgotten in his account of the sources of pleasure, and its 
being so forgotten is the condition of the desire for pleasure 
being made plausibly to serve as a foundation for morals. 
It is the assumption of pleasures determined by objects only 
possible for reason, made in the treatise on the Passions, 
that prepares the way for the rejection of reason, as supply- 
ing either moral motive or moral standard, in the treatise 
on Morals. 
Hm 30. ' The passions * is Hume's generic term for < impres- 

^©rt*^' sions of refiection* — appetites, desires, and emotions alike. 
paBsionB.' He divides them into two main orders, ^ direct and indirect,' 
both ^ founded on pain and pleasure.' The direct passions 
are enumerated as ^ desire and aversion, grief and joy, hope 
and fear, along with volition ' or will. These ^ arise from 
good and evil ' (which are the same as pleasure and pain) 
* most naturally and with least preparation.' * Desire arises 
from good, aversion from evil, considered simply.' They 
become will or volition, * when the good may be attained or 
evil avoided by any action of the mind or body ' — will being 
simply ^ the internal impression we feel and are conscious of, 
when we knowingly give rise to any new motion of our body 
or new perception of our mind.' * When good is certain or pro- 
bable it produces joy' (which is described also as a pleasure pro- 
duced by pleasure or by the imagination of pleasure) ; ^ when it 
is uncertain, it gives rise to hope.' To these the corresponding 
opposites are grief and fear. We must suppose them to be 
distinguished from desire and aversion as being what he 
elsewhere calls ^ pure emotions ' ; such as do not, like desires, 
^ immediately excite us to action.' Given such an immediate 
impression of pleasure or pain as excites a ^ distinct passion ' 
of one or other of these kinds, and supposing it to ^ arise 
from an object related to ourselves or others,' it excites 
mediately, through this relation, the new impressions of pride 



or humility, love or hatred — pride when the object is related All desire 
to oneself, love when it is related to another person. These "i^Joj^ 
are mdirect passions. They do not tend to displace the imme- 
diate impression which is the condition of their excitement, 
but being themselves agreeable give it additional force. 
* Thus a suit of fine clothes produces pleasure from their 
beauty ; and this pleasure produces the direct passions, or 
the impressions of volition and desire. Again, when these 
clothes are considered as belonging to oneself, the double 
relation conveys to us the sentiment of pride, which is an 
indirect passion; and the pleasure which attends that 
passion returns back to the direct a£Fections, and gives new 
force to our desire or volition, joy or hope.' ' 

81. Alongside of the unqualified statement that * the pas- Yet he ad* 
sions, both direct and indirect, are founded on pain and ™on8'^*^ 
pleasure,' and the consequent theory of them, we find the which pro- 
curiously cool admission that * beside pain and pleasure, the p]^,„^^ 
direct passions frequently arise from a natural impulse or in- butp«>-* 
stinct, which is perfectly unaccountable. Of this kind is the ^IJ^^J^ 
desire of punishment to our enemies, and of happiness to our 
friends ; hunger and lust, and a few other bodily appetites. 
These passions, properly speaking, produce good and evil, 
and proceed not from them like the other affections.'* In 
this casual way appears the recognition of that difference of 
the desire for imagined pleasure from appetite proper on the 
one side, and on the other from d esire determined by reason .'-' ' ""* , 
which it is the point of Hume's system to ignore. The ques- 
tion is, how many of the pleasures in which he finds the 
springs of human conduct are other than products of a desire 
which is not itself moved by pleasure, or emotions excited 
by objects which reasogLgP^stitutes. > 

■ Vol. IT., pp. 214, 216. Cf. pp. 76, adTenary, by gratifying revenge, » 

90, 153 and 203. good : the sicknesB of a companion, hy 

' P. 216. The passage in the 'Die- affecting fiiendehip, is evil.' Here he 

sertation on the Passions* (Vol. it., avoids the inconsistency of admitting in 

' Dissertation on the Passions,' sub so many words a ' desire ' which is not 

init.), which corresponds to the one here for a pleasure. But the inconsistency 

quoted, throws light on the relation in really remains. What is the passion, 

which Hume's later redaction of his the * conformability ' to which of an 

theory stands to the earlier, as occasion- object in the supposed cases constitutes 

ally disguising, but never removing, its pleasure ? Since it is neither an appe- 

inconsistencies. ' Some objects, by tite (such as hunger), nor an emotion 

being naturally conformable or contrary (such as pride), it remains that it is a 

to passion, excite an agreeable or pain- desire, and a desire which, though the 

fol sensation, and are thence called 'gratification' of it is a pleasure, cannot 

good or evil. The punishment of an be a desire for that or any other pleasure. 


DiNiM for 82. In what seime, we have first to ask, do Hume's princi- 
^^J^ pies justify him in speaking of desire far an object at all. 
ftands it, ' The appearance of an object to the senses ' is the same 
^^^ thing as ^ an impression becoming present to the mind/^ and 
theory of if this is tme of impressions of sense it cannot be less trne 
impp©i- Qf impressions of reflection. If sense 'offers not its object 
*detm. as anything distinct from itself/ neither can desire. Its 
object, according to Hume, is an idea of a past impression ; 
but this, if we take him at his word, can merely mean that 
a feeling which, when at its liveliest, was pleasant, has 
passed into a fainter stage, which, in contract with the 
livelier, is pain — the pain of want, which is also a wish for 
the renewal of the original pleasure. In fact, however, when 
Hume or anyone else (whether he admit the possibility of 
desiring an object not previously found pleasant, or no), 
speaks of desire for an object, he means something different 
from this. He means either desire for an object that causes 
pleasure, which is impossible except so £eu- as the original 
pleasure has been-HK>n8ciously to the subject feeling it — 
pleasure caused by an object, i.e., a feeling determined by 
the conception of a thing under relations to self; or else 
desire for pleasure as an object, {.6., not merely desire for 
the revival of some feeling which, having been pleasant as 
* impression,' survives without being pleasant as * idea^' but 
desire determined by the consciousness of self as a perma- 
^1 nent subject that has been pleased, and is to be pleased again* 
' It is here, then, as in the case of the attempted derivation 
of space, or of identity and substance, from impressions of 
sense. In order to give rise to such an impression of reflec- 
tion as desire for an object is, either the original impression 
of sense, or the idea of this, must be other than Hume could 
allow it to be. Either the original impression must be other 
than a satisfaction of appetite, other than a sight, smell, 
sound, &c., or the idea must be other than a copy of the im- 
pression. One or other must be determined by conceptions 
not derived from feeling, the correlative conceptions of self 
and thing. Thus, in order to be able to interpret his 
primary class of impressions of reflection* as desires for 
objects, or for pleasures as good, Hume has already made 
the assumption that is needed for the transition to that 

> 8m GenenllntroductioD, paragraph 208. ' See above, Me. 10. 



secondary class of impressions through which he has to 
account for morality. He has assumed that thought deter- 
mines feelings and not merely reproduces it. Even if the 
materials out of which it constructs the determining object 
be merely remembered pleasures, the object is no more to be 
identified with these materials than the living body with its 
chemical constituents. 

33. In the account of the * indirect passions' the term prided^- 
object is no longer applied, as in the account of the direct tonnmed 
ones, to the pleasure or pain which excites desire or aver- ence to 
sion. It is expressly transferred to the self or other person, ^^' 
to whom the ^ exciting causes ' of pride and love must be 
severally related. * Pride and humility, though directly 
contrary, have yet the same object,' viz., self; but smce they 
are contrary, * 'tis impossible this object can be their cause, 

or sufficient alone to excite them We must therefore 

make a distinction betwixt that idea which excites them, and 
that to which they direct their view when excited. .... 
The first idea that is presented to the mind is that of the 
cause or productive principle. This excites the passion con- 
nected with it ; and that passion, when excited, turns our 
view to another idea, which is that of self. .... The first 
idea represents the caiis6f the second the object of the 
passion.'^ Again a further distinction must be made ^ in the 
causes of the passion betwixt that quality which operates, 
and the subject on which it is placed. A man, for instance, 
is vain of a beautiful house which belongs to him, or which 
be has himself built or contrived. Here the object of the 
passion is himself, and the cause is the beautiful house; 
which cause again is subdivided into two parts, viz., the 
quality which operates upon the passion, and the subject in 
which the quality inheres. The quality is the beauty, and 
the subject is the house, considered as his property or con- 
trivance.'* It is next found that the operative qualities 
which produce pride, however various, agree in this, that 
they produce pleasure — a * separate pleasure,' independent 
of the resulting pride. In all cases, again, ^ the subjects to 
which these qualities adhere are either parts of ourselves or 
something nearly related to us.' The conclusion is that 
^the cause, which excites the passion, is related to the 

* Vol. II., pp. 77 and 78. « Ibid., p. 79, 


olgect which nature naa attributed to the passion; the 
sensation, which the canse separately prodnoes, is related to 
the sensation of the passion : from this double relation of 
ideas and impressions the passion is derired.'* The ideas, 
it will be obserred, are serCTsIly those of the exciting 
'subject' (in the illustratiTe case quoted, the beautiful 
house) and of the ' object ' self; the impressions are sererally 
the pleasure immediately caused by the ' subject ' (in the 
case giyeuj the pleasure of feeling beauty) and tiie pleasure 
of pride. The relation between the ideas may be any of the 
'natural ones ' that regulate association.' In the supposed 
case it is that of cause and effect, since a man's property 
' produces effects on him and he on it.' The rehition between 
the impressions must be that of resemblance — this, as we are 
told by the way (somewhat strangely, if impressions are 
only stix>nger ideas), being the only possible rehition between 
impressions — ^the resemblance of one pleasure to another, 
riiis 34. Pride, then, is a special sort of pleasure excited by 

^^^^^^ another special sort of pleasure, and the distinction of the 
two sorts of pleasure from each other depends on the 

, . ' ^ character which each deriyes from an idea — one from the 



idea of self, the other from the idea of some ' quality in a 
P?"^*« subject,' which may be the beauty of a pictcue, or thft 
achieTcment of an ancestor, or any other quality as unlike 
these as these are unlike each other, so long as the idea of it 
is capable of association with the idea of self. Apart from 
such determination by ideas, the pleasure of pride itself and 
the pleasure which excites it, on the separateness of which 
from each other Hume insists, could only be separate in 
time and degree of Ureliness — a separation which might 
equally obtain between successive feelings of pride. Of 
neither could anything be said but that it was pleasant- 
more or less pleasant than the other, brfore or after it, as 
the case might be. Is the idea, then, that giyes each im- 
pression its character, itself an impression grown £unter? 
It should be so, of course, if Hume's theory of consciousness 
is to hold good, either in its general form, or in its applica- 
tion to morals, according to which all actions, those moved 
by pride among the rest, hare pleasure for their ultimate 
motive ; and no doubt he would have said that it was so. 

> YqL n^ pp. 84, 85. * Book i., part 1, mo. 4 and &. 


The idea of the beautj of a picture, for instance, is the 
original impression which it * makes on the senses ' as more 
faintly retained by the mind. But is the original impression 
merely an impression — an impression undetermined by con- 
ceptions, and of which, therefore, as it is to the subject of 
it, nothing can be said, but simply that it is pleasant? This, 
too, in the particular instance of beauty, Hume seems to 
hold ; * but if it is so, the idea of beauty, as determined by 
reference to the impression, is determined by reference to 
the indeterminate, and we know no more of the separate 
pleasure that excites the pleasure of pride, when we are told 
that its source is an impression of beauty, than we did before. 
Apart from eixkj other reference, we only know that pride is 
a pleasure excited by a pleasure which is itself excited by a 
pleasure grown fainter. Of effect, proximate cause, and 
ultimate cause, only one and the same thing can be said, 
viz., that each feels pleasant. Meanwhile in regard to that 
other relation from which the pleasure of pride, on its part, 
is supposed to take its character, the same question arises. 
This pleasure ^ has self for its object.' Is self, then, an im- 
pression stronger or fainter? Can one feeling be said 
without nonsense to have another feeling for its object? If 
it can, what specification is gained for a pleasure or pain by 
reference to an object of which, as a mere feeling, nothing 
more can be said than that it is a pleasure or pain ? If, on 
the other hand, the idea of self, relation to which makes the 
feeling of pride what it is, and through it determines action, 
is not a copy of any impression of sense or reflection — not a 
copy of any sight or sound, any passion or emotion^ — how 
can it be true that the ultimate determination of action in 
all cases arises frt)m pleasure or pain ? 

35. From the pressure of such questions as these Hume Bume's 
offers us two main subterfuges. One is furnished by his JJ^^^™^^,!^ 
account of the self, as ^ that succession of related ideas and idea of 
impressions of which we have an intimate memory and con- "f^^" ^e- 
sciousness'* — an account which, to an mcunous reader, impree- 
conveys the notion that * self,* if not exactly an impression, 
is something in the nature of an impression, while yet it 
seems to giye the required determination to the impression 
which has this for its * object.* It is evident, however, that 

* Vol n., p. 96 ; iy., * Digsertation on * Intr. to Vol. i., paragraph 208. 

the PassioDB/ ii. 7. ■ Vol. ii., p. 77, &c. 

VOL I. ^ 


its plausibility depends entirely on the qtialification of the 

* succession, Ac.,* as that of which we have an * intimate con- 
sciousness.' The succession of impressions, simply as such, 
and in the absence of relation to a single subject, is nothing 
intelligible at all. Hume, indeed, elsewhere represents it as 
constituting time, which, as we have previously shown,* by 
itself it could not properly be said to do ; but if it could, 
the characterisation of pleasure as having time for its object 
would not be much to the purpose. The successive impres- 
sions and ideas are further said to be * related,' i.6., 
naturally related, according to Hume's sense of the term ; 
but this we have found means no more than that when two 
feelings have been often felt to be either like each other or 

* contiguous,' the recurrence of one is apt to be followed by 
the recurrence in fainter form of the other. This charac- 
teristic of the succession brings it no nearer to the intelli- 
gible unity which it must have, in order to be an object of 
which the idea makes the pleasure of pride what it is. The 
notion of its having such unity is really conveyed by the 
statement that we have an ^ intimate consciousness ' of it. 
It is through these words, so to speak, that we read into the 
definition of self that conception of it which we carry with 
us, but of which it states the reverse. Now, however 
difficult it may be to say what this intimate consciousness is, 
it is clear that it cannot be one of the feelings, stronger or 
fainter — impressions or ideas — which the first part of the 
definition tells us form a succession, for this would imply 
that one of them was at the same time all the rest. Nor 
yet can it be a compound of them all, for the fact that they 
are a succession is incompatible with their forming a com- 
pound. Here, then, is a consciousness, which is not an 
impression, and which we can only take to be derived from 
impressions by supposing these to be what they first become 
in relation to this consciousness. In saying that we have 
such a consciousness of the succession of impressions, we 
say in effect that we are other than the succession. How, 
then, without contradiction, can our self be said to he the 
succession of impressions, &c. — a succession which in the very 
next word has to be qualified in a way that implies we are 
other than it ? This question, once put, will save us from 

> Intr. to Vol. I., see. 261. 


Bnrprise at finding that in one place, among frequent repeti- 
tions of the acconnt of self abeady given, the * succession 
&c.' is dropped, and for it substituted * the individual person 
of whose actions and sentiments each of us is intimately 


9 I 

86. The other way of gaining an apparent determination Another 
for the impression, pride, without making it depend on rela- g^^^ V* 
tion to that which is not an impression at all, corresponds physioio- 
to that appeal to the * anatomist ' by the suggestion of ^^^^f 
which, it will be remembered, Hume avoids the troublesome pride. 
question, how the simple impressions of sense, undetermined 
by relation, can have that definite character which they must 
have if they are to serve as the elements of knowledge. The 
question in that case being really one that concerns the 
simple impression, as it is for tiie consciousness of the 
subject of it, Hume's answer is pi effect a reference to 
what it is for the physiologist. So in regard to pride ; the 
question being what character it can have, for the conscious 
subject of it, to distinguish it from any other pleasant feel- 
ing, except such as is derived from a conception which is 
not an impression, Hume is ready on occasion to suggest 
that it has the distinctive character which for the physio- 
logist it would derive fix>m the nerves organic to it, if such 
nerves could be traced. ' We must suppose that nature has 
given to the organs of the human mind a certain disposition 
fitted to produce a peculiar impression or emotion, which we 
call PBIDE : to this emotion she has assigned a certain idea, 
viz., that of SELF, which it never fails to produce. This 
contrivance of nature is easily conceived. We have many 
instances of such a situation of affairs. The nerves of the 
nose and palate are so disposed, as in certain circumstances 
to convey such pecuUar sensations to the mind ; the sensations 
of lust and hunger always produce in us the idea of those 
peculiar objects, which are suitable to each appetite. These 
two circumstances are united in pride. The organs are so 
disposed as to produce the passion ; and the passion, after 
its production, naturally produces a certain idea.'^ 

87. Here, it will be noticed, the doctrine, that the pleasant Fallacy of 
emotion of pride derives its specific character from relation ^"' 
to the idea of self, is dropped. The emotion we call pride is 

» Vol. n., p. 84. « Vol. n., p. 86. 



It does not supposed to be first produced, and then, in virtue of its 
whit^pride ''P®^^^^ charaoter as pride, to produce the idea of self.* If 
if to the the idea of self, then, does not give the pleasure its specific 
■ubjectof character, what does P ^That disposition fitted to produce 
it,' Hume answers, which belongs to the 'organs of the 
human mind.' Now either this is the old story of explaining 
the soporific qualities of opium by its vis soporificay or it means 
that the distinction of the pleasure of pride from other 
pleasures, like the distinction of a smell from a taste, is 
due to a particular kind of nervous irritation that conditions 
it, and may presumably be ascertained by the physiologist. 
Whether such a physical condition of pride can be dis- 
covered or no, it is not to the purpose to dispute. The point 
to observe is that, if discovered, it would not afford an 
answer to the question to which an answer is being sought 
— to the question, naniely, what the emotion of pride is to 
the conscious subject of it. If it were found to be condi- 
tioned by as specific a nervous irritation as the sensations of 
smell and taste to which Hume assimilates it, it would yet 
be no more the consciousness of such irritation than is the 
smell of a rose to the person smelling it. In the one case 
as in the other, the feeling, as it is to the subject of it, can 
only be determined by relation to other feelings or other 
modes of consciousness. It is by such a relation that, ac- 
cording to Hume's general account of it, pride is determined, 
but the relation is to the consciousness of an object which, 
not being any form of feeling, has no proper place in his 
psychology. Hence in the passage before us he tries to sub- 
stitute for it a physical determination of the emotion, which 
for the subject of it is no determination at all ; and, having 
gained an apparent specification for it in this way, to repre- 
sent as its product that idea of a distinctive object which 
he had previously treated as necessary to constitute it. Pride 
produces the idea of self, just as ' the sensations of hunger 
and lust always produce in us the idea of those peculiar 
objects, which are suitable to each appetite.' Now it is a 
large assumption in regard to animals other than men, that, 
because hunger and lust move them to eat and generate, 
they so move them through the intervention of any ideas of 
objects whatever — an assumption which in the absence of 

• Cf. Vol. IV., • Dissertation on the Passions,' ii. 2. 


language on the part of the animals it is impossible to yerify 
— ^and one still more questionable, that the ideas of objects 
which these appetites (if it be so) produce in the animals, 
except as determined by self-consciousness, are ideas in the 
same sense as the idea of self. But at any rate, if such 
feelings produce ideas of peculiar objects, it must be in 
virtue of the distinctiye character which, as feelings, they 
have for the subjects of them. The withdrawal, however, 
of determination by the idea of self from the emotion of 
pride, leaves it with no distinctive character whatever, and 
therefore with nothing by which we may explain its produc- 
tion of that idea as analogous to the production by hunger, 
if we admit such to take place, of the *idea of the peculiar 
object suited to it.' 

88. If, in Hume's account of pride, for plea4nuref wherever Account of 
it occurs, is substituted pain^ it becomes his account of yoUJ^the 
humility. A criticism of one account is equally a criticism same diffi- 
of the other; and with him every passion that ^ has self for ^^^^'» 
its object,^ according as it is pleasant or painful, is included 
under one or other of these designations. In like manner, 
every passion that has ' some other thinking being' for its 
object, according as it is pleasant or painful, is either love 
or hatred. To these the key is to be found in the same 
* double relation of impressions and ideas ' by which pride 
and humility are explained. If beautiful pictures, for 
instance, belong not to oneself but to another person, they 
tend to excite not pride but esteem, which is a form of love. 
The idea of them is ^ naturally related ' to the idea of the 
person to whom they belong, and they cause a separate 
pleasure which naturally excites the resembling impression 
of which this other person is the object. Write * other 
person,' in short, where before was vmtten ^ self,' and the 
account of pride and humility becomes the account of love 
and hatred. Of this pleasure determined by the idea of 
another person, or of which such a person * is the object,' 
Hume gives no raHonale, and, failing this, it must be taken 
to imply the same power of determining feeling on the part 
of a conception not derived from feeling, which we have 
found to be implied in the pleasure of which self is the 
object. All his pains and ingenuity in the second part of 
the book ^ on the Passions,' are spent on illustrating the 
' double relation of impressions and ideas ' — on characteris- 


and m ing the separate pleasures which excite the pleasure of love, 
^^^^'^ and showing how the idea of the object of the ezcitmg 
natare ai pleasore is related to the idea of the beloved person. The 
fjmfuihj. objection to this part of his theory, which most readily sug- 
gests itself to a reader, arises from the essential discrepancy 
which in many cases seems to lie between the exciting and 
the excited pleasure. The drinking of fine wine, and the 
feeling of love, are doubtless ^resembling impressions,' so 
&r as each is pleasant, and from the idea of the wine the 
transition is natural to that of the person who giyes it ; but 
is there really anything, it will be asked, in my enjojrment 
of a rich man's wine, that tends to make me love him, even 
in the wide sense of 'love' which Hume admits? This 
objection, it will be found, is so far anticipated by Hume, 
that in most cases he treats the exciting pleasure as taking 
its character firom sympathy. Thus it is not chiefly the 
pleasure of ear, sigh^ and palate, caused by the rich man's 
music, and gardens, and wine, that excites our lore for him, 
but the pleasure we experience through sympathy with his 
pleasure in them.' The explanation of love being thus 
thrown back on sympathy (which had previously served to 
explain that form of pride which is called ' love of fame *), we 
have to ask whether sympathy is any less dependent than we 
have found pride to be on an originative, as distinct from a 
merely reproductive, reason. 
Home's ae- 89. * When any afiPection is infused by sympathy, it is at 
Tmu^ first known only by its effects, and by those external signs 
in the countenance and conversation which conyey an idea 
of it.' By inference firom efTect to cause, * we are convinced 
of the reality of the passion,' conceiving it ' to be